What to know about New Balance’s ‘Protection Pack’

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It’s of no surprise that New Balance’s ‘Protection Pack’ is one of the most in-demand releases of recent times. Updating the loved silhouette of the 2002R, along with the recently revived 1906, the ‘Protection Pack’ manages to make a statement even in the absence of any brash colourways. A more surprising detail is that it isn’t attached to any big-name collaborator, nor was it the subject of any all-out marketing campaign from the Boston label.

New Balance released the first iterations of the 2002R ‘Protection Pack’ after months of teasing the shoe. It was characterised by muted palettes and cut suede layers through the uppers, with its launch met by huge demand when it came to market in mid-2021. A winning setup from the get-go, although the name under which it was released – ‘Protection Pack’ – is a huge point of contention for the brains behind the shoe.

New Balance 1906D 'Protection Pack'

Yue Wu is the in-house New Balance designer to thank for coming up with ‘Protection Pack’ design, which came from his observation of the way New Balance shoes hold their original form despite years of wear and tear. The initial name for the shoe – ‘Refined Future’ – gives a nod to this notion, whereas the ‘Protection Pack’ moniker was in fact given to it by the first shop which launched it. This is something Wu isn’t wholly pleased about, having previously asserted that getting the perfectly worn aesthetic of the shoe wasn’t a one-stop process; whilst the layers look roughly cut, every line was in fact considered.

New Balance 2002R 'Protection Pack'

Believe it or not, this was Wu’s very first foray into designing a lifestyle silhouette for New Balance, having cut his teeth in-house on performance models following an internship at the brand. Now part of the label’s lifestyle team, Wu swapped the usual smooth lines of the upper for jagged-looking strips of suede; thus, the ‘Protection Pack’ (nee. ‘Refined Future’) was born.

Following the huge successes of the 2002R in its neutral palettes, the 1906 was the next shoe to receive ‘Protection Pack’ treatment. Like its predecessor, the appeal of the 1906D iteration lies in the muted palettes and torn-away look of the shoe. Rough strips of suede add that deconstructed feel, which makes it an instant draw for someone looking for a wearable shoe that will age gracefully. The unique guise is one that continues to impress, with a steady stream of new colourways ensuring the pack’s future within New Balance’s lifestyle offering.

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