It's certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but it's definitely a fact: If we had asked you, our dear community, about the New Balance 550 a few years ago, we probably would have been fobbed off with an ignorant shrug of the shoulders. But that has changed drastically since last year! The underdog basketball silhouette from New Balance disappeared completely from the scene for a few years, but has been celebrating a huge comeback since 2020!

In this blog post, we'll show you what makes the sneaker so special and totally hip again, and how the Boston brand's basketball sneaker, which was lost until recently, has risen to become one of the most popular kicks in streetwear. Let's go!

new balance original ad
@teddysantis

The beginnings of the New Balance 550

The New Balance 550 was released for the very first time in 1989. In fact, the name of the model was "P550" and it was released as a basketball shoe. At that time, it was not uncommon for low-top models to be produced and used for basketball. As you can see in the picture of an old advertisement above, it was also very common for basketball shoes to have a full leather upper. And so, of course, was the New Balance 550.

Just like today, New Balance was mainly known for its running shoes almost three decades ago. Therefore, the 550 was not very popular in the United States. For example, running models like the 990 and the 1500 (1993) from NB eclipsed the basketball silhouette. Probably because the 550 did not contain any innovative technology. However, this was the be-all and end-all for a successful model on the market at the time. It is remarkable, however, that the New Balance 550 nevertheless managed to establish itself in Europe.

basketball new balance
Aimé Leon Dore

The Design of the 550

The soaring silhouette features a sleek and simple design. In a nutshell: a high-quality upper made of smooth leather and perforated leather, paired with breathable mesh lining and a rubber sole. Almost always, the 550 got a colorway that consisted of only two colours. The upper was almost always white leather, while the special design elements like the "N" on the outside of the shoes were given one, at most two contrasting colours. Of course, the simple colorways also had something to do with the trends of the time. The two-colour designs of the basketball shoes were great in the 80s - 90s.

2020 - 2021

Alright, let's get back to the present: as you learned at the beginning of this blog post, the New Balance 550 has experienced a real surge in popularity since 2020. This year, many sneaker enthusiasts started to revive the vintage sneaker trend. In addition, the chunky design of the 550 naturally also fitted perfectly into the trend.

New Balance 550 x Aimé Leon Dore
Aimé Leon Dore

New Balance and Aimé Leon Dore

Quick facts about Aimé Leon Dore (ALD): The New York clothing shop Aimé Leon Dore was founded in Queens, New York, in 2014. Teddy Santis, the founder of the brand, has always had a great love and passion for fashion and basketball. ALD has already entered into several collaborations with New Balance. Among others, of course, on the New Balance 550.

Among other things, this collaboration has led to the model being very popular today. In 2020, Teddi Santis and his brand took aim at the almost forgotten basketball silhouette for the first time and brought it back to the market with authentic marketing. As you can read in the quote below, Santis' vision was to make the shoe popular again. Looking back, the two brands even collaborated on a 550 pack for the second time in 2021. A striking feature of the ALD x New Balance collabs is the intentionally yellowed midsole, which gives the sneaker an aesthetic vintage look.

"Reintroducing the P550 Basketball Oxfords. They were originally released in 1989 and haven’t been touched since. The silhouette has been something of an enigma — almost impossible to find information on it. Took us a couple years and a lot of work to bring this shoe back. Everything about the 550’s and what they represented felt like this would be the perfect romance to activate SONNY and the ALD grassroots basketball program. Major hat tip to the whole NB team for giving us this runway and believing in the vision. 🌎❤️"

Teddy Santis
aime leon dore x new balance 550
aime leon dore x new balance 550
Images by Aimé Leon Dore

New Balance 550 x size?

After Aimé Leon Dore brought back the 550 in 2020 and the sneaker was happily welcomed with open arms, the established sneaker retailer size? also enjoyed a new collaboration with New Balance and the 550. In this collaboration, the sneaker was given the retailer's signature bright orange colour on various design elements and was released exclusively via the size? app. The yellowed midsole also became an important part of this design.

size? x New Balance 550
@sizeofficial

More to come

After the return of the New Balance 550 in 2020, kicks definitely don't seem to be disappearing from the sneaker scene for the time being. But let's wait and see what the next trend brings. Will the 550 be able to adapt? In any case, the resale price for the previous collabs is currently soaring and several colorways are still being released by New Balance. We remain curious.

In the near future, new colorways of the popular 550 will be available on the New Balance homepage. We will of course keep you up to date! Check out the New Balance page from time to time via the following link. >>New Balance 550

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