New Balance will soon give you a chance to land a pair of 998s unlike any other, with a sustainability component to make them that much sweeter. Leftover materials are used to craft each pair, which marks the return of the “Made Responsibly” series New Balance first introduced last year.
Surplus materials make up the majority of the shoe, including pigskin overlays, the mesh body, lining, lacing, speedlaces, molded collar straps, and even the sole units. Some new materials are still needed, however, coming in the inner lining, foam, heel counter, and box toe. And because of the limited nature of the excess materials, each pair will be one-of-a-kind.
“New Balance remains committed to high-quality craftsmanship and making every piece of the material count,” John Timulty, product manager for New Balance Made, said in a release. “Our designers created a color palette that is both creative and aesthetically pleasing, which resulted in a Made Responsibly 998 style that is truly one-of-a-kind.”
And yes, they’re normal sneakers — When New Balance launched its first crop of upcycled sneakers, we mistakenly believed that the unfinished promotional photos were the final product. It turned out that they were just that, a great promo, and one that showed how disparate scraps came together to make a crop of truly unique sneakers. In the end, what you’re getting is not a Frankenstein’s monster, but a cohesive sneaker not unlike normal 998s.
New Balance’s sustainability-oriented kicks are a small step in the right direction as brands focus on creating more responsibly. Adidas is making serious progress and leading the field by inching towards fully recycled sneakers as the norm, while Nike has stepped up its output of trash-turned-kicks through its use of partially recycled Crater Foam.
Comparatively, New Balance is lagging, but everyone still has a long ways to go to be able to claim full sustainability. Regardless, it’s good to see New Balance make use of materials that might otherwise be discarded — and we hope it steps up its more sustainable output going forward.
Expect the kicks to be gone in a flash — Last year, New Balance released just 100 pairs of upcycled 998s that sold out in minutes. The brand hasn’t said exactly how many pairs will be available this time around, but whatever the quantity is, you should expect them to fly.
If you want to try and land a pair, you’ll be able to do so when the sneakers launch at 10 a.m. ET on May 1 through New Balance’s website. Each pair is $180, but you’ll know your coin is going to something you can say no one else in the world has.