The Sneaker Drop: September’s Most Wanted From New Balance, Nike And ASICS
Illustrations by Mr Ben Lamb
Fifteen years ago this December, at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Mr Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at then US president Mr George W Bush (Bush twice ducked). The practice of throwing shoes to show displeasure goes back centuries, even getting a nod in the Old Testament. In the 4th century, for example, Roman Emperor Constantius II copped a crep – possibly a sandal? – while demanding the loyalty of a clutch of Limigantes in what is roughly now Serbia. But the Bush incident, in particular, triggered a slew of shoes to be slung at figures over the following years, from the CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Transport Authority to the lead singer of emo pop-punk band Paramore. So, we understand if you approach the pile of sneakers that MR PORTER holds aloft this month with some trepidation.
Fear not, we do not present these shoes as a threat. We would never chuck a kick, certainly not in anger. Moreover, we brandish brands such as Nike, New Balance and ASICS as offerings, each with its own lineage that stretches back, OK, not as far as foundational religious canon. But, in a couple of cases, all the way to the 1980s, which in sneaker lore might as well be. What we will say is this: catch them while you can.
550 “Brown” by New Balance x thisisneverthat
New Balance might be known for its running shoes, but it has historically held its own on the basketball court, too. So, while you can thank Mr Teddy Santis for the brand’s 550 silhouette becoming the cult shoe of the past few years, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Launched in 1989 and largely forgotten about for decades until Santis stumbled on it, the 550’s relative obscurity gave it freshness. This collaboration with Korean streetwear label thisisneverthat makes perfect sense, given that the late-1980s, early-1990s era of retro sportswear is entirely in the brand’s wheelhouse. Three colourways are tentatively promised from this team up, but this first in brown canvas with black detailing and bronze eyelets should prove hard to better.
990v4 Made in USA “White Green” by New Balance
While the 1982 original 990 was all about the latest hardware – becoming the first running shoe to break the $100 barrier – by 2016, the line was enjoying its middle age. So, when the v4 was launched that year, it was no surprise to see it swept along with the dad-shoe trend. And by handing the model over to Stüssy for a redesign the following year, it was pretty clear that this model wasn’t just for joggers. However, New Balance keeps on find ways of reviving the shoe. This version comes in a clean white with forest green branding, at once playing up the sporting heritage and giving it a crisp, new feel.
Air Max Plus “Light Photography” by Nike
Given that Mr Sean McDowell’s original concept for what would become the TN, or Air Plus Max, was sketched out on a Florida beach as dusk fell, this latest incarnation feels somewhat apt. Indeed, the colourway resembles the Sunset edition from a few seasons ago. But rather than the black TPVU webbing, inspired on that fateful day by palm trees, this update employs a one-piece canvas upper with white ribs drawn on. Lightweight they might be, thanks to the removal of the exoskeleton, but that’s not a word you’d use to describe the bold styling.
Air Force 1 Mid “Sheed” by Nike x Off-White
Outspoken is one way to describe NBA legend Mr Rasheed Wallace. In his playing days, the basketballer famously held the record for the most technical fouls in a season, only to break it the next season. The late Mr Virgil Abloh certainly caught this spikiness; note the sole of this reworking of the Air Force 1, in a confrontational black patent leather. Elsewhere, note the Wallace logo that accompanies the Off-White signatures – the contrast-stitched Swoosh, Helvetica typeface and zip ties. Given that Wallace has latterly become known for his activism and philanthropy, much like Abloh was, makes this a fitting homage. Let’s hope they fit you.
Gel-1130 Heritage Metal Pack by ASICS
Launched in 2021, the Gel-1130 draws heavily on 2008’s Gel-Kayano 14, which, as sneakerheads will know, ASICS also reissued in 2020. It means that, yes, technically, you could run in a pair, but its more the vibe of running in the late 2000s that you want to capture. Don’t put any actual physical effort into it. While the look is old school, there’s enough new tech under the hood for cutting-edge comfiness. This colourway leans into this retro-futurism, with a classic white and green pairing nudging up against space-age silver panelling.