New Balance is one of the top athletic shoe brands worldwide, known for its comfort, quality and wide range of styles. But is it actually a good brand that’s worth the cost
By looking at key factors like reputation, materials, comfort, design, performance, value, customer service and business practices, we can get a good sense of the pros and cons of New Balance shoes.
Keep reading this informative guide to learn all about the New Balance brand and decide for yourself if their shoes are a good choice for your needs and budget.
New Balance Brand Reputation
With over 100 years in business, New Balance has built up a strong reputation as a quality athletic brand.
Known for their “Made in USA” shoes, New Balance is popular for its craftsmanship and classic styles.
Many customers loyalty stems from the brand’s commitment to domestic manufacturing.
However, some critics argue New Balance has declined in popularity compared to trendy competitors like Nike and Adidas.
But the brand still has a dedicated following, especially among runners and older customers.
New Balance Quality and Durability
Leather, suede and mesh are commonly used on New Balance shoes. For performance models, durable synthetics are utilized.
Shoes are well-constructed using stitched and cemented methods.
New Balance shoes are built to last, with some users getting several years of wear before needing replacement.
Outsoles hold up well to abrasion, although the foam midsoles will compress over time.
Using orthotics can prolong midsole life. Overall, customers find New Balance delivers good quality and longevity compared to the price.
The primary upper materials New Balance uses are:
- Leather – Provides durability and a premium look. Used often on lifestyle models.
- Suede – Soft and supple, adds comfort and style. Mainly in casual shoes.
- Mesh – Lightweight and breathable. Seen on many performance shoes.
- Synthetic Leather – Vegan alternative to real leather. Gives a leather look without animal products.
Outsoles are usually carbon rubber for traction and resilience. EVA foam, PU foam and gel inserts are common midsole materials for cushioning.
New Balance Comfort and Fit
With wider size ranges and focus on biomechanics, New Balance shoes accommodate many foot shapes.
Ample toe room, cushioning and arch support provide comfort across miles of wear.
Performance models offer precise lockdown via engineered mesh uppers and supportive midsole tech. However, some find New Balance shoes to run short in sizing.
Trying shoes on in-store is recommended for best fit. Break-in time is average.
There are models tailored for flat feet, overpronation or joint pain. Overall, New Balance is regarded as a comfortable, supportive athletic shoe.
New Balance Style and Design
New Balance style is athletic, casual and retro. Their performance shoes come in vibrant color schemes and feature technical detailing like mesh panels and engraved midsole logos.
Heritage models offer vintage appeal in classy suede/leather with simple grey and navy tones.
For casual wear, New Balance lifestyle sneakers balance laidback and refined in low-profile silhouettes with premium accents.
Critics argue New Balance lacks edge compared to trendier looks from some competitors.
But fans love the timeless, sporty style and appeal across ages. New Balance collaborates with brands like Stance and JJJJound for limited editions.
New Balance Performance and Innovation
In performance running, New Balance keeps innovating with technical features like Fresh Foam midsoles, Vibram outsoles and Arch Lock medial support.
Their running shoes are respected for responsive cushioning and reliable stability. Models like the 1500, 860 and 1080 are popular choices for road runners.
The brand doesn’t have advanced sports science like Nike and Adidas, but focuses on practical functionality over flashy tech.
For serious athletes, New Balance may lack specialist shoes for activities like CrossFit, basketball or golf.
But their core running and training shoes deliver versatile performance capable of handling gym routines, HIIT classes and pavement-pounding.
New Balance Value for Money
New Balance shoes range from $40 – $175 USD. Their entry-level models compete with mainstay budget brands like Nike and Adidas.
Mid-tier New Balance shoes cost slightly more than big competitors but bring added quality and comfort.
New Balance’s Made in USA and UK lines are priced at a premium, from $165 – $400, compared to offshore production. This reflects skilled craftsmanship and ethical labor standards.
Considering their durability, comfort and versatile performance, most New Balance shoes deliver very good value at their price point relative to competitors.
The brand goes on sale often, increasing the value proposition further.
Price Comparison to Other Brands
- Nike: Similar pricing but wider range into higher price points. Good value on entry models.
- Adidas: Very competitive pricing on entry and mid-level shoes. Good tech features for price.
- Brooks: Slightly higher than New Balance on average. Competes on high-end running.
- Saucony: Comparable pricing to New Balance. Good value for performance.
- Asics: Usually 10-20% higher prices than New Balance models. Justifies premium for advanced tech like FlyteFoam and Gel.
- Reebok: Lower average pricing than New Balance. Good budget options under $75.
New Balance Customer Service
New Balance offers responsive customer service via phone, email, live chat and social media.
Their social team promptly answers questions and concerns. The brand’s Amazon store also provides easy returns and exchanges through Amazon’s policies.
Warranties cover manufacturer defects for workmanship and materials within 2 years of purchase.
Some users complain New Balance lacks leniency on wear and tear defects. Shoe donation and recycling programs give customers sustainable disposal options.
Overall, customers find New Balance’s customer service helpful and on par with competitors. But a longer standard warranty would improve the ownership experience.
New Balance Sustainability and Ethical Practices
New Balance claims over 25% of its US shoes are made domestically, mainly in New England and California factories.
This local production achieves quality and ethical standards hard to guarantee offshore.
The brand tries improving material sustainability, using recycled polyester in some shoes and clothing.
New Balance aims for leather traced to Leather Working Group certified tanneries by 2025.
However, the majority of manufacturing remains offshore in Asia where oversight is more difficult.
New Balance has room for growth around transparency in its complex supply chain. But their initiatives around US manufacturing and materials do set an ethical example.
In conclusion, New Balance is considered a good, reputable brand of athletic shoes that delivers quality, comfort and performance for the price.
While not the trendiest, New Balance shoes offer versatile functionality for running, sports, casual wear and daily activity.
Their wider range of sizes and support features accommodate many foot types as well.
New Balance still lags some competitors in advanced technology and style.
But if you value comfort, fit, durability and American-made craftsmanship, New Balance shoes will make a sound investment that does right by your feet and your wallet.