How New Balance Sneakers Are Made | The Making Of

How New Balance Sneakers Are Made | The Making Of


Fabiana Buontempo: What
do tennis star Coco Gauff, NBA MVP Kawhi Leonard, and Liverpool soccer great
Sadio Mané have in common? They all wear New Balances on
the court and on the field. You don’t have
to be a sneakerhead to know that New Balances weren’t always
considered the “cool shoe.” But somehow, despite
steep competition, New Balance has
entered the conversation. Reportedly, from 2010 to 2018, sales jumped by more than
100%, at a time when athleisure was making the biggest
dent in the shoe market. So why are athletes
across the sports spectrum flocking to New Balance now? The answer lies in the shoes’ soles and the attention to detail
in their manufacturing. I traveled to New Balance’s
Lawrence, Massachusetts, facility to learn what
goes into the process. Manny Gomes, the mechanic
supervisor at the facility, showed me the precision that goes into making the sneakers here. Making a New Balance sneaker
takes 50 to 60 steps, and work is divided
into four stations: the prep station, initial stitching, hand-stitching, and
the assembly station. It’s at the fourth station
where the soles get attached to the rest of the shoe, and
it’s something New Balance has been working on
since the beginning. The company started in 1906
by selling arch supports, which became so
popular among athletes that they asked for sneakers
tailored to their feet. But the company wouldn’t release
its first pair of sneakers until years later. When it did start
selling sneakers, New Balance mostly chose not to rely on celebrity endorsements, as the brand wanted its
sneaker to speak for itself. It went so far as to make its
mantra “Endorsed by No One,” all the while improving the sole and the shoe’s overall comfort. But before the sole is ever added, the work begins at the first station. This is where fabrics are cut into different parts of the shoe. So, how exactly does the
machine for the cutting work? Manny Gomes: This
is the vamp die; it’s gonna cut off the
vamp of the shoe. What the cutter’s gonna do
is they’re going to place it on this webbed material.
They’re going to cut it. They’re gonna flip it
around so they can just try to get their
spacing as tight as possible and work their way down. Fabiana: This station
is where small but mighty details of
the shoe come together, such as sticking on
sizing and model labels. Next is the
initial-stitching station. During this step,
workers use a technique called flat stitching,
which is crucial to making the shoes long-lasting. Individual stitches are
made without crossing or looping the thread. They use this stitching technique because flat stitching
doesn’t leave any raw edges but creates a durable
double row of stitching. This is important because
this is the body of the shoe, where most of the
wear and tear happens. Here, the employee takes
the cut-out pieces of fabric and places them onto
large yellow pallets. They line up the pieces and
close the yellow pallet’s lid to begin the stitching. Once stitching is complete
on a part of the shoe, an employee will send that
part down the assembly line. The famous N gets stitched
onto the shoe during this step. Now it’s time for the
hand-stitching part of the process. The upper portion of the shoe
is almost done at this point. But why hand-stitch in this phase? Turns out, the stitching
in this station is more intricate and requires
the guidance of a human hand. Manny: Stitching is
very complicated. Sometimes we’ll have
a skipped stitch, and what happens is
the operator will stop, give it to the team leader,
team leader will give it to the repair person, they’ll
fix that skipped stitch, put it back in process,
and continue. Fabiana: The final step
is assembling and finishing the sneakers. First, the upper is
pulled onto a shoe last, which performs the job
of a foot in a shoe, and that gives it its final shape. The upper and the sole are
then heated in a little tunnel. From there, they go
into a press machine, which permanently bonds
the two parts together. Speaking of the sole, it’s something of an
engineering marvel. Traditional soles can be
narrow and unsupportive, leading to all kinds
of foot problems, like plantar fasciitis. And if they can’t hold up
to the rigors of a sport, it can be a nightmare
for a sneaker brand. New Balance widens the toe box. That extra room helps
the foot be more stable. Plus, New Balance gives its
sneakers a thick midsole, making them more comfortable
and shock-absorbent. But it’s not one-size-fits-all
when it comes to the soles. The numbers in each New
Balance sneaker name indicate what type of
activity the shoe is for and the type of support it offers. For example, if the
name has a 40 in it, like the New Balance
940 or 1540 shoes, it’s designed to
offer control, stability, and cushioning
perfect for running. Different numbers
mean a different sole. To finish the process, the New Balance sneaker
gets a final inspection, and if all is well, it’s
packed up in its box, soon making its way to a store. Other shoe brands may
still have the upper hand in terms of sales
and cultural cachet, but there’s no doubt that
more athletes and customers are taking notice of New Balance.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. These are the shoes I wear I love them I just bought my 18 pair I have bought sents I started wearing them 4 years ago great shoes goes with everything

  2. the only reason mané is wearing new balance shoes is because he is sponsored. New balance soccer shoes are horrible, the toe box is way too tight and the shoes are not flexible, stick with mizuno, the extra cost is worth it.

  3. Nothing to look here peeps, just one American company trying promoting another American company which ironically has "endorsed by no one" in its name…

  4. This brand has underrated models in the sneaker scene they have so many good retro shoes and new modern ones too. I like how they are so versatile wether using them for style with a casual minimalist look with the benefit of comfort and timeless style.

  5. New balance is ugly and cheap ..it’s cater to poor people.. Who cares where it is made.ill stick to my Nike and Gucci sneakers !!!

  6. I agree…I have a New Balance shoes and its really comfortable compare to my nike and adidas… Love New Balance now!!!

  7. I used to wear J’s,ultra boosts,nmds and yeezys those kind of hype shoes. But when I start wearing new balance,I realize not only they are more comfortable but I can style them easier and more versatile. Now I basically sold all of my hype shoes cus I hardly ever wears them anymore lol

  8. I own lot of New Balance good quality unlike Nike . the longest lasting shoe I have owned are Brooks, Asics, and New Balance with Socony bringing up the rear . I quit Nike after a $180 pair fell apart in a month and they told me tough luck

  9. I am a big fan of NB shoes. Owned 990 996 1400. After trying US made NB, I really couldn't go back to those ones from China or Vietnam. They are totally different, material, quality, style. Totally DIFFERENT.

  10. NB's (and Dunham's) are among a very few shoes that come in narrow widths (a critical issue for those of us who need narrows but can't afford custom shoes).

  11. Bc people nowadays are so into hyped shit and care nothing about their identity, i would so appreciate any Asian that wear NB or Asics to mixnmatch with any outfit cuz they r so dope, especially those retros one and gel lyte iii, own a pair of NB999 for 5 yrs and still the best to rock with jeans

  12. God bless you New Balance!! Thank you as well for sponsoring pairs of shoes to Martin Luther jr. Highschool to all of the students and staff!…courtesy of Ellen show

  13. New Balance has the crappiest outsoles. It is very slippery when wet especially when walking on painted surfaces like the pedestrian lane.

  14. Now if their designers can get out of the stick in the 80s design era then they can take their shoes to the next level. All them shits look like grand daddy shoes. Smfh

  15. “ endorsed by no one” I love that … I always wanted to get me a pair but was skeptical… now I will for sure get me a pair … preferably 420’s

  16. Waaay better than Nikes, Thats for sure!!! Nikes fall apart when put under the same stress and conditions as NewBalance sneakers.

  17. They widen the toe box.
    Now I know why they are the only sneakers that fit me.
    Keep up the good work NB . Its appreciated .

  18. New Balance shoes are going down in quality.. I've been wearing NB for over 15 years so was disappointed that my recent purchase of a classic NB clearly show they are using cheaper materials from laces used to the material used to make the tongue.

  19. Plastic materials and cheap labor , it wont cost 15$ for each sneaker so dont make abig deal of it as it rocket science . In china it wont cost even 10$ .

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