Footwear Focus With Erik: New Balance’s Made in USA

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New Balance’s Made in USA line deservedly deserves a spotlight. The Boston based brand has been steadily churning out expert-quality pearls year-after-year. I’ve had my eye on New Balance for at least a decade now and the brand never waivers. Yes, sometimes a colourway might not be the best ever, but which brand can say the contrary? Their execution however, sheesh. Americans are proud people, proud of their nationality and their manufacturing. Made in the United States of America means a whole lot more to an American than other nationalities with their locally produced products.

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New Balance embraces its American roots and is proud of their American craftsmanship. At its factory in Norridgewock, Maine, New Balance employs roughly 300 people, which seems small until you consider the rural New England town’s total population is a little over 3,300. The 300 strong workforce produces 4.000 shoes per day; only 1 percent though end up as B-grades. The average employee tenure at New Balance is 18 years and that means there are multiple generations of families working there, too: there’s currently a grandmother, mother, and daughter employed at the factory. Knowing this and picking up a fresh New Balance M998 and feeling the suede, looking up close to the stitching on the tongue and you can feel it. You instantly recognize experienced hands have made these shoes.

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The M998 remains my favourite Made in USA New Balance, followed closely by the M997. If laced right, the sloping nose’s of both are a thing of beauty. The nose might look a bit bulky, where as I prefer aggressively styled sneakers, but a bit of toe-pushing fixes that beautifully for that perfect sneaker shot. Yes, that is important. Peep the new M998’s and M997’s and see if you want to dabble your toes in probably the best quality shoes you’ve ever worn.