Like many other running shoe brands, New Balance has a long history and story of how it got to be the brand it is today. In this month’s origin story, we dive into the history of New Balance athletic sneakers and its journey from orthopaedic arch supports to multi-sport, multi-product success.
The Founding of New Balance Shoes
Founded in 1906 by Irish immigrant William J. Riley, New Balance began with a focus on orthopaedic products, specializing in arch supports. In 1927, Riley hired Arthur Hall as a salesman, who had experience selling orthopaedic arch supports to people who were on their feet all day in their jobs. 7 years later, Hall became a business partner.
In the 1950s, demand for New Balance products grew substantially, with athletes now asking for tailored sneakers. In the mid-1950s, New Balance was sold to Hall’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband Paul Kidd.
Developing the First Performance Running Shoe
Eleanor and Paul Kidd took New Balance to a new level through the 1960s with the debut of the “Trackster” – the world’s first performance running shoe with a ripple sole. Marketing remained mainly as word-of-mouth, but sales soared with several College track teams adopting the Trackster as their unofficial shoe.
New Balance was sold again in 1972, this time to current chairman Jim Davis. It was during this decade that New Balance made a global breakthrough, winning the Runner’s World Magazine award with its 320 model. Jim was committed to upholding the long-standing traditions of product quality and customer service, while also building a distinct culture for employees and customers alike.
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New Balance Footwear to Fit Everyone’s Needs
The New Balance product line of performance running shoes expanded rapidly during the 1970s and 80s, while the company continued to reach into global markets. To date, New Balance has expanded its company into a global empire, offering everything from sneakers to specialty sports shoes.
For more information about the company New Balance is today, check out its website