When Richie Roxas bought his first pair of New Balance sneakers in 1994, he had no idea he was 20 years ahead of a trend.
While his fellow sneakerheads were busy chasing the latest release from Nike, Roxas decided to chart his own course.
“I found New Balances to be the most comfortable,” he told CNBC Make It. “They were kind of like this underdog brand. And I went to them because not many people were wearing them.”
Now 43, the shoe collector owns more than 600 pairs of sneakers from the Boston-based brand. As its floor-to-ceiling collection has grown, New Balance has grown.
What was once commonly considered a favorite of dads across America — sometimes mocked for its “ugly” and chunky aesthetic — has evolved over the past decade into a fashion-forward brand in its own right.
New Balance, which in 2022 introduced a record $5.3 billion in turnover, is seeing its sales grow faster than those of its big rivals Nike and Adidas. Indeed, CEO Joe Preston said revenue could reach $10 billion “over the next few years.”
“The vision of the New Balance brand today is dramatically different than it was 10 years ago,” says Tom Nikic, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities who covers the footwear and apparel industries. . “They have a much bigger lifestyle component to the brand. There’s a much bigger fashion aspect to the brand. It’s a much cooler brand today than it was 10 years ago. “
Collaborations with designers like Salehe Bembury, JJJJound and Aimé Leon Dore have seen New Balance grow for four consecutive years on resale site StockX — including a 128% jump between 2021 and 2022, according to data shared with CNBC Make It.
These days, New Balance sneakers are just as likely to be seen on the feet of celebrities as they are worn by star athletes like the NBA. Kawhi Leonard And Jamal Murray and MLB players Shohei Ohtani And Francois Lindor.
For the full story of how New Balance went from fashion faux pas to fashion avant-garde, check out the latest episode of CNBC’s Make It’s Suddenly Obsessed.
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