New Balance have always been a brand who pride themselves on having a strong ethical identity within the production side of sports footwear. One of their most well known production facilities is their UK based factory in Flimby, located on the coast of the Lake District, where every effort is made to produce the highest quality hand-made footwear possible.
Their Made in England line is renowned for its focus on using quality sourced materials and premium construction. Each shoe is engineered in a very precise process by each of the staff on the production line so that every measure is taken to ensure no shoes end up being wasted due to manufacturing errors.
We recently visited Flimby to take a look at the production process of the 577 OG Anniversary pack, looking at every stage of construction to show the detail which goes into making every pair.
Each hide of leather is carefully examined before cutting to ensure only the very best pieces are being used for components later on. Using a combination of both hand operated and heavy duty compression cutters, each component of the shoe is cut using blades specifically shaped for a particular type of shoe.
Some of the most experienced cutters in the factory are specially trained to be able to fit different templates over a whole sheet of leather, making sure they're able to get the most of out the material so very little ends up going to waste.
Each component is layered up in a specific order, comprising of the plastic Encap mid-panel, side logo's and mudguard. Using a series of stitching machines these are gradually sewn together using a pre-programmed pattern.
For efficiency, this stage is computer operated to ensure accuracy and speed or production are maintained to keep up with production targets.
After the pre-emptive stage of stitching carried out robotically, the next stages involves the upper being skilfully hand-machined by staff. The rear section of the upper is looped and joined, and the branded backtab is attached.
Once the separate sections of fabric have been stitched together and the the shape starts to look somewhat like a shoe, this is when the base needs to be worked on before attaching the sole.
Take a look at our video above to see the full process from start to finish. You can also see our selection of New Balance made in this very factory here