September 27th marked an extremely special day for Boston-based Ball and Buck, a lifestyle brand and retailer that emphasizes American quality over foreign quantity. It was only fitting, therefore, that New Balance, also based locally in Boston and with similar emphasis on American craftsmanship, collaborate to bring sneakerheads a unique colorway of the New Balance 574.
The release party was spectacular, with free PBR and bourbon provided to a crowd of well over 100 that packed Ball and Buck’s store on Newbury Street. Before getting my pair, I had the privilege to sit down with Steve Gardner of New Balance to talk about the special collaboration. Gardner, who serves as the SBU Manager for Lifestyle at New Balance, gives his perspective on the collaboration and plans for New Balance moving forward.
How did New Balance first go about choosing Ball and Buck to work with?
“I think there is value to someone that can bring something else to the party… and what we bring as a story not a lot of other companies can, and that’s what New Balance offers. What we do, no one else does. We make shoes in the U.S. and when I first met Mark [President of Ball and Buck] and heard their story, together we looked at it and said there’s something here. On top of it Ball and Buck is a small Boston company and New Balance was a small Boston company, Jim Davis bought the company when there was 6 employees… and you just want to help people embrace the same things you embrace, and Ball and Buck sees the market the same way.”
Was the development for the colorway difficult? What can you tell me about that process?
“Well the aesthetic is bringing two core things, the New Balance Grey and the Ball and Buck Camo, they just both tell two stories that are very powerful. When we sat down with Mark the idea just came together. At first the grey and camo seem like they wouldn’t be paired together but when you look at the final product it’s fire.”
How does New Balance’s philosophy to creating shoes differ from other brands?
“We are first and foremost shoemakers, we want to create before anything a shoe that fits and feels great. We aren’t creating it to sit in a closet as a keepsake. I know you might choose to do that (laughs) but our target is to make consumers feel great about their shoe. There’s a lot we might add; packaging might be a part of that, how to tell great stories, or making them available to the customer. At the end of the day its our job to push for newness and bring something unique to the market”
Do you see New Balance seeking out more companies to collaborate with moving forward?
“Moving forward we see ourselves looking for partners both long term and new, and how we can bring freshness to the market. The whole point of a collaboration is to brings two companies together that delivers something we couldn’t bring alone. That’s what brings the consumer in, and makes them line up.”