You may not think that your dad has much in common with today’s most fashionable celebrities, but we can think of one thing they likely share — their love for New Balance sneakers. It’s a fact that the brand highlighted in its 2019 ad campaign for its 990v5 sneakers, which included the slogan, “worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio.”
Their universal appeal seems to only have grown since. New Balance has become one of the most in-demand sneaker brands of the moment — according to Google trends, search interest in the brand reached an all-time high in Dec. 2022.
So what exactly makes New Balance shoes so beloved? “They’re really for everybody,” stylist Stacee Michelle tells Shop TODAY. “We’ve seen over the past 100 years, everyone from the president to NBA superstars and celebrities wearing the sneakers.”
Originally founded in 1906, the sneaker brand has become well-known for creating shoes that put comfort and performance first, making them a top choice among athletes, casual sneaker wearers and, of course, fathers. But a number of high-profile collaborations with fashion companies like Miu Miu and Stüssy have also cemented New Balance as a must-have sneaker brand among fashion and trend-savvy consumers.
So to get the intel on what exactly makes them so popular and the best styles to shop, we consulted with Michelle and Dr. Miguel Cunha, podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City. Here is everything you need to know about the beloved footwear brand.
No one wants to wear an uncomfortable sneaker. And a large portion of the sneakers’ popularity stems from the fact that they actually feel good on your feet. Cunha says that because of their design, New Balance is one of the brands that he most commonly recommends to patients.
“Typically their shoes are designed with engineered footbeds that are great for arch support, comfort and stability,” he says. The footbeds tend to be well-cushioned for comfort and provide anatomical arch support, which can “help minimize fatigue and pain not only for your feet but your ankles, your knees and your back,” he adds. They also have a deep heel cup that allows your heel to sit firmly inside the shoes instead of riding up the back as you walk or run, which can help prevent blisters.
But that’s not all. Cunha says that the middle of the shoe has a rigid shank, which keeps it from bending in an area where your foot wouldn’t naturally bend. The shoes also tend to have a wide toe box, which not only gives it the classic bulky “dad shoe” look, but also lets your toes move freely without restrictions and minimizes discomfort on your forefoot, he says.
“These shoes are also biomechanically engineered with a structured saddle, synthetic upper, cushioned collar and flexible and durable rubber sole which will help provide maximal shock absorption properties and cushioning to maximize motion control,” he says.
Aside from their benefits for your feet, some people would argue that they’re pretty stylish, too. Their current popularity is likely, in part, thanks to the growing trendiness of wider pant styles. Dad sneakers like New Balances are a great choice to pair with wide-leg or baggy pants since it allows you to keep “the scale the same all the way down,” Michelle says.
Another way to style the sneakers is by wearing a pair with an oversized jacket. “You’ll see a lot of celebrities wearing a topcoat with a slim bottom and the sneakers,” she adds. It can be a trench coat or a jacket that goes past your knees, but she says that the look is “really clean and sleek.”
You can also try pairing them with something unexpected, like a dress or skirt. “We’ve seen a lot of this trend at fashion week and with street style, where people are wearing coordinated blazer and skirt sets with a pair of New Balance sneakers,” Michelle says. “Or they’re wearing a slip dress with a pair of New Balance sneakers and maybe something underneath, whether it’s a turtleneck or a jacket. So there are ways to elevate it from the ankle up, but still keep it cool and casual down below.”
With so many styling options, the shoes are a versatile staple that anyone can pull off. “It’s great when you can have that crossover of a sneaker that you can wear to the gym but then also throw on with a great pair of jeans, a jacket and head out the door or a blazer and a skirt,” Michelle says. “Having that versatility is important in your wardrobe, so I definitely always encourage that to clients when looking for new pieces to include.”
Cunha says that the 574v2 is the New Balance shoe that he recommends most often. “The shoe is highly durable, it’s highly flexible, it’s lightweight, extremely comfortable, [has a] superior arch, has soft shock-absorbing cushioning on the footbed to relieve pain and it has a cool vintage-y classic old school look but is still modern.”
Commerce Deals Coordinator Victoria Herlocker recently bought a pair and says that she loves how versatile they are. “I can wear them casually with jeans, in the office with a pair of wide-leg pants or on a walk!”
Cunha also recommends the New Balance 997H Sneakers, which feature a suede and mesh upper and color-blocked design. According to the brand, the shoes deliver comfort with every step thanks to the lightweight cushioning.
Shop TODAY Holiday Editor Rebecca Brown owns the shoes and says they are “amazing” for walking. She added that it’s the only pair she’ll wear on her annual family theme park visit, “because it does double duty (feels good and looks good).”
Michelle likes retro-inspired 327 sneakers. “They’re not as chunky as some of the traditional dad sneakers, so [they’re] a little bit more streamlined — which is what I like — but it still gives you that sneaker look,” she says.
Shop TODAY production coordinator Jill Ortiz is also a fan of the style. She describes the shoes as “cute” and “comfy” and added that they can even be worn to the office. “I can wear them with jeans and a blazer and I feel nice,” she says.
Another pick from Cunha, the 990v5 sneakers are said to blend performance and style. Available in multiple colors, the company says that they’re a “staple of both morning runs and fashion runways.”
Commerce Editorial Assistant Sierra Hoeger adds that she owns a similar style of these sneakers. “They lasted me multiple years throughout college,” she says. “I was first drawn to them because of the subtle leopard pattern because it adds a little bit of detail to an otherwise neutral pair of shoes!”
Perfect for everything from workouts to morning commutes, these shoes are designed to be comfortable and responsive. They come in a range of colors and both regular and wide sizes, so you’re bound to find a pair that will suit your personal preferences.
According to New Balance, if the brand only made one running shoe, “that shoe would be the 1080.” The company says that the shoe provides peak performance for both experienced and casual runners. The streamlined and stylish shoe is designed to be breathable, extra soft and flexible for a “second-skin style fit.”
New Balance has brought back its popular OG Fresh Foam Cruz v1 for a limited time! The fan-favorite is said to deliver all-day comfort and cushioning. According to the brand, they run large, so it’s recommended that you order in a half-size up.
Emma Stessman is an Associate Editor for Shop TODAY. Her mom taught her how to scour a sale rack at an early age and she has been obsessed with finding deals ever since. When she is not scrolling for items to add to her wish list, you can find her curling up with a book, exploring Brooklyn on foot or planning her next weekend getaway.
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