Yes, it's only March — but the best sneaker of the year so far is about to drop Friday.
Aimé Leon Dore has once again teamed up with New Balance, this time taking on the more obscure 827. First introduced in 1997, the 827 was an elite running shoe for its time, and its abundance of colors, materials, of divergent lines is right of the moment for the great revival of '90s aesthetics. Tasteful as it is, ALD's trio of 827s are something of a counter to some of today's more high-profile sneaker releases. Alas, hype is at a zenith, and getting your hands on them will be no small feat.
Looking closer — Aimé Leon Dore has been teasing out its latest New Balance collab since late February using what's become a signature campaign framework for the two brands: grey-haired elders wearing the kicks as part of believable but outstanding outfits. This time, the tagline is "Runners aren't normal," a callback to the days when jogging was a fringe activity. In his memoir Shoe Dog, Nike co-founder Phil Knight remarked on the strange looks his neighborhood runs in the '70s would attract, long before the brand's "If you have a body you are an athlete" ethos took over the world.
In this context, "Runners aren't normal" is also an invocation of the value of personal style. Sneakerheads can easily fall into a visible archetype — you know the look — but ALD's 827s are just begging to be styled differently. Rock them with a camel coat, a track suit, a tweed suit, whatever. Have fun and freak it.
Somehow, all three sneakers are at once loud and muted, head-turners and sleepers. Someone may not immediately notice them on your feet, but as soon as they do they won't be able to stop looking. Of the three, the predominantly white version is my favorite. Small hits of red, yellow, green, and blue give it just the right amount of pop. Still, the confluence of bubbles, arches, and waves rendered in synthetic suede and mesh is a hit no matter the variance. And ALD's branding is kept to a minimum via a reflective print on the heel webbing and a co-branded insole.
Is it the sneaker apotheosis of the peak millennial aesthetic recently lampooned by The Cut in a viral essay? Absolutely, and especially with the subsequent grainy campaign of joggers released this week. But fuck it, the shoes are still awesome, cliche be damned. I'd put them on my feet throw them up in front of my windowsill full of plants for the Gram while shamelessly leaning into the trope. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
How to make them yours — All three pairs will release exclusively on ALD's site at 11 a.m. EST Friday. Pricing details have yet to be announced, but past ALD x NB collaborations have all been around the $200 range. If you subscribe to ALD's newsletter, you can increase your odds by entering a raffle to purchase. Should you be successful, you'll have a pair sure to be on every reputable outlet's year-end list for 2020.