The Origin Story of New Balance: From Arch Supports to Athletic Footwear
The story of New Balance began in 1906, when a young man named William J. Riley started a small company in Boston, Massachusetts, called the New Balance Arch Support Company. Riley had suffered from foot problems himself and was convinced that better arch supports could improve people's comfort and health. He began designing and manufacturing arch supports and other shoe accessories, such as heel pads and insoles, that helped people with various foot ailments.
Over time, Riley's business expanded to include custom-made shoes, particularly for athletes who needed specialized support and cushioning. The company's reputation grew, and it became known as one of the few American shoemakers that produced high-quality athletic footwear.
In the 1960s, New Balance introduced its first running shoe, the Trackster, which was designed to provide superior traction and durability for runners. The Trackster was the first running shoe to be available in different widths, which was a significant innovation at the time. The shoe quickly gained a following among runners, and New Balance became known as a brand that focused on comfort and fit, rather than fashion or trends.
New Balance continued to grow and innovate throughout the 1970s and 1980s, introducing new models and technologies that improved performance and comfort. The company also became involved in sponsorship and endorsement deals with athletes, such as Steve Prefontaine and Jim Davis, the owner of New Balance, even went as far as to buy the company in 1972.
In the 1990s, New Balance expanded its product line to include cross-training shoes and walking shoes, in addition to running shoes. The company also started to offer more stylish and fashionable designs, while still maintaining its commitment to comfort and fit. This shift helped New Balance to reach a wider audience, beyond just athletes and runners.
Today, New Balance is still headquartered in Boston and continues to be a leading producer of athletic footwear and apparel. The company has expanded to include a wide range of products, from running shoes to lifestyle sneakers to apparel and accessories. However, New Balance's commitment to quality, fit, and comfort remains unchanged, and the brand continues to be a favorite among athletes and consumers who value those qualities above all else.
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