Ahead of the launch of the New Balance 990v5, we were given the opportunity to head over to Lawrence, Boston, to take a first-hand inspection of how the famous silhouette is made from start to finish. One of NB’s core selling points is their high standard of their handmade UK and USA-created products, so it was a real treat to witness the process up close and personal.
One of four Boston-based New Balance factories, the Ayer Mills location was originally built in 1910 for the American Woolen Company. It houses nearly 700 employees working across many different departments within the brand, ranging from design & development to material sourcing and finance.
The factory environment is home to 214 staff, creating 2000 pairs of shoes every single day. As we also found when we visited the Flimby factory a few years back, several of the staff have been working for the brand for almost 20 years, showing each member’s dedication to making the best products possible.
The production line is broken up into four main facets, Cutting & Pre-fit, Stitching, Closing, and Assembly. Each pair takes roughly 3 hours to make from the initial cutting of the suede upper to the final quality control checks at the final stage before reaching the shoebox. Each member of the line is specially trained to ensure only the best quality materials, cut parts, stitched panels and glued midsoles are being used to create the end product.
Whilst watching each step of the process, it was interesting to see each of the small elements that go into forming each pair. There will be certain panels that keep the structure of the shoe together, and there’s a very specific order in which everything must be layered up along the production line. It’s not until you get the very rare chance to see behind the curtain and experience a shoe being made, that you can really learn to appreciate a brand that bit more. Seeing how many hands each shoe passes through demonstrates the care and attention to detail that goes into each product.
Learning more about the 990v5 itself, we got the chance to sit down with Senior Product Manager Eric Vassell, the designer behind the shoe who has also had a hand in the creation of every model since the v2.
The New Balance 990v5 will be available online and in selected size? stores on Saturday 4th May, priced at £180.
Take a look at our latest selection of New Balance styles available online and in size? stores now.