5 Minutes with Tetsuya Shono of New Balance

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Tetsuya Shono 3

We recently caught up with Tetsuya Shono to discuss his time with the brand and the size? exclusive New Balance MD1500 Deconstructed.

Can you tell us a little about your background and time at New Balance?

I started at New Balance Japan in 1997 as a footwear designer on running, fitness, walking and lifestyle. At that time the brand was much smaller so I was having to do a bit of everything! Around 10 years ago I moved onto overseeing the lifestyle business in Japan and in the last year or so have moved into a Global Product Management role, helping set up our Tokyo Design Studio and develop the new Sport Style and Hybrid area of the Lifestyle business.

What was the first New Balance project you worked on?

When I first started I was only doing colour ups of performance running shoes but the first project I remember being really proud of was the re-launch of the 1300JP – we’ve brought it back in very limited quantities every 5 years since.

What considerations do you take into your design approach? 

The product has to make sense in that is should always have New Balance DNA. I always try to ensure it has story and concept that connects to either our heritage or more contemporary performance product. I also ensure I’m very aware of the product positioning from the outset – what type of consumer is this product for? Where will it be sold?

What interests do you have outside your role and do they influence your work?

I have a real interest in everything related to lifestyle and culture (music, film, food, art, product design) and it’s something that surrounds me 24/7. I’m lucky enough have to job that allows me to use these interests and passions to influence my work.

Can you tell us about ‘Always in Beta’ and ‘Reinvent Tomorrow’?

‘Always in Beta’ is our global brand marketing platform. It’s about never being satisfied and always looking to better yourself. This is something we adopt as a brand in the product we make but it also talks to every athlete – what next after you’ve achieved your goals? ‘Reinvent Tomorrow’ refers specifically to our new lifestyle product but it still ties in with that overall ‘Always in Beta’ message of looking to the future, constantly moving and evolving.

‘Reengineered’ is the launch of a new series of footwear from New Balance. What was the design brief and inspiration behind the collection?

Over the past few years we’ve established ourselves as one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands in the world. We’re primarily known for our Classic Running heritage so we felt the time was right to explore and expand into new areas. The brief on the ‘Reengineered’ collection was to create new and contemporary twists on a number of these heritage models. We’ve achieved this through a combination of deconstructed uppers and the marrying of our propriety performance technology with classic craftsmanship.

Are there any new technologies or updated features in the shoe?

We’ve stripped the shoe back to give it a simpler and more deconstructed look whilst being careful not lose the DNA of the original shoe (quality, craftsmanship, shape, small N logo). We have also added Revlite cushioning into the midsole to make the shoe more lightweight and comfortable.

What is the history of the M1500 and why was this silhouette chosen for the launch of Reengineered?

The M1500 was originally launched in 1989 as a made in USA performance running shoe but over the past 10-15 yrs it has established itself as one of our most iconic and premium ‘Made in UK’ lifestyle silhouettes – the real NB ‘connoisseur’s choice’! It therefore made absolute sense to re-work this model along with a number of our other key heritage models (574, 996, 530, 580) to launch the ‘Reengineered’ collection.

Tell us about the size? exclusive ‘Deconstructed’ MD1500.

We have a strong history with size? and they have always been a massive supporter of the brand. They’ve played an integral role in helping make us the global success we are today so there was a good fit in partnering with them on launching the new ‘Reengineered’ collection. The popularity of running hybrid in the UK also meant it made sense to do something specific here as well. We knew from previous projects that size? would do a great job on the execution as they have a real understanding of what we stand for as a brand and what we’re trying to achieve with this new range. The buyers were instinctively drawn to the MD1500 not only because of the quality and shape of the shoe but because of the strong heritage the classic 1500 has in Europe and the UK in particular.

What’s next for you and the Reengineered Series? 

It’s frustrating when you’re working so far in advance, you know what’s coming further down the line and you just want it to be available now! What you see now is just the start, lots more exciting things to come – watch this space!

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