New Balance x Hanon - Flying Club Samples

In August last year, for the first ever Sole Bloc sneaker festival in Glasgow, I was lucky enough to get my hands on some never before seen New Balance x Hanon samples for the NB Gallery display. So, before we get into this post, I suggest you take a look at the first post I wrote about the samples here, and then jump back to this one. Since then, I've started working at Hanon, and the other week, Murray was lucky enough to get his hands on two pretty special samples, one of which was part of the "Flying Club" Pack, which was released back in 2008.

Obviously, knowing the excitable New Balance geek that I am, Murray was kind enough to let me borrow his now prized possessions, and along with some other samples as well as the two released pairs, I put them together and created this post.

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To kick off the post, we should take a brief look at the released pairs, so that you can compare them to the samples throughout the post.

The New Balance 670GKY "Tornado" features a grey suede upper, with dark grey Ventile fabric underlays, a kind of very dark navy leather heel tab and heel wrap, with yellow leather 'N', off-white midsole, and special "Flying Club" tongue tab.

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The second released pair is the New Balance 670BRY "Spitfire", which features a black suede upper, with red Ventile fabric underlays, and a black leather heel tab and heel wrap, yellow leather 'N', off-white midsole, and special "Flying Club" tongue tab.

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For the first sample, let's look at my favourite. The red 670 features a predominantly nubuck upper with Ventile fabric underlays, a charcoal leather heel wrap and heel tab, a normal 670 tongue tab, as well as a big grey suede 'N', and a grey midsole.

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Next up are two samples which haven't really been seen before, well, one hasn't been seen at all, and some pics of the other surfaced a long time ago, and have been elsewhere until they turned up the other week.

I shot them both together so that it's easier to see the slight differences between them. In terms of materials, they both have the same make up, but the colourways are slightly different.

The first pair was dubbed the "Lancaster" and is the pair that had some images of it floating around many years ago.

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This next pair, I actually found when I was digging around the vaults for the red nubuck 670, I pulled out a random NB box and this was stashed inside, and as you can imagine, I was pretty chuffed to stumble across it.

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Now that we've got the introduction to these two samples out the way, let's get down to the side by side comparison.

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As mentioned already, both pairs feature the same material make up, utilising suede overlays and Ventile fabric underlays, with a black leather heel wrap and heel tab, as well as the big yellow 'N's on both pairs, the "Flying Club" tongue tab, and off-white midsoles.

The "Lancaster" pair has lush brown suede with a lighter brown Ventile fabric underlay, while the other pair uses dark grey suede and an almost light tan Ventile fabric for the underlay. It's really hard to choose a favourite between these two.

So in terms of the "Flying Club" Pack, that's it for the samples, but you might have caught that there's another pair featured in one of the very first images, and I wanted to include that in this post because it has a "Flying Club" tongue tab, although it has absolutely nothing to do with the pack, and features no Ventile fabric whatsoever.

This New Balance 1300 was another project that Hanon were working on some time ago, and never came to fruition for whatever reason, but it was very interesting seeing a UK Made 1300 almost being used for a collab. The shoe itself features a mixture grey nubuck and grey mesh underlays, with a burgundy suede 'N' and burgundy Terry Cloth lining.

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I hope you enjoyed this exclusive look into some more Hanon Shop samples, but there's a lot more where that came from, so stay tuned to my blog.

Until then, here's one last picture of the four of them together...

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New Balance 576NGA + SGA "20th Anniversary"

It goes without saying that the New Balance 576 is one of the classics, and in 2008 the shoe turned 20 years old. Since it's inception in 1988, the shoe was produced in the UK, and to celebrate, New Balance produced two pairs of 576 in their vintage original versions;

When we think of New Balance, we think of colours like grey and navy, and materials like suede and mesh, all of which are timeless. The New Balance 576 20th Anniversary pairs came in both navy and grey, paired with the original sole unit from 1988 to give it that original feel.

Both the New Balance 576NGA and 576SGA are a must in any collection, those colourways are just perfect. The soft mesh, lush suede, luxurious leather lining, pebbled style heel tab, original style sole unit, and that faded heel counter all come together to make two excellent pairs of shoes.

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WOMFT - New Balance 1300KOG

In this day and age, the 1300 is Made in the USA, however, a few years ago, there used to  always be a few colourways of UK Made 1300's releasing each season, and the New Balance 1300KOG was one of these pairs, which released in 2009. I wish at the time I had scooped up all of the UK Made 1300's as there really was some great colourways, but unfortunately I let them slip, even in the sale.

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Picture by @s3mgw

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Private Preview of the New Balance 1500FPK x Footpatrol 'Encyclopaedia'

It seems like every week there are at least 5+ collaborations releasing, and I'm sure you'll agree, it's pretty hard to keep up, but Made in UK New Balance collaborations are few and far between these days, so when one of them come along, there's always quite a bit of excitement surrounding it. Then when you throw in UK heavyweights Footpatrol from London, the anticipation for this collaboration was only ever going to increase! Before I get into the private preview of the shoe, let's take a look at the Footpatrol images of the New Balance 1500FPK, along with some details about the collaboration.

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The release has been dubbed 'Encyclopaedia', and the tagline 'Knowledge is Key' has accompanied the collaboration since the first few teaser images were released. Footpatrol have came together with New Balance UK to pay homage to arguably the most informative and detailed reference source - the Britannica Encyclopaedia.

The Britannica Encyclopaedia was first published in 1768, and was produced in fifteen editions until it's present physical volume in 2012, and this shoe uses this source of knowledge as it's inspiration. If you look at the shoe, and then look at the Britannica Encyclopaedia pictured, it's clear that the people of Footpatrol and New Balance have worked extremely hard to execute this concept to the highest of standards.

The New Balance 1500FPK has a screams premium at first glance, with it's predominantly black upper, decked out in only the best materials, with plush suede on the toe wrap and ankle sections, complimented by some smooth black leather across the toe box, side panels and tongue. Some contrast gold detailing comes in the form of the embroidery on the tongue, heel logo and of course the traditional small single embroidered 'N' logo on the lateral side. The heel logo on the medial side features a blacked out double embroidered 'N' logo, which is a really nice touch. There is also an embroidered tab on the rear of the tongue, which features an illustration of a book with the tagline 'Knowledge is Key', while the insole takes elements from some of the content found in the Encyclopaedia, in an off white colour with an anatomical illustration of the human foot. It doesn't end there though, as no shoe is complete without some reflectiveness in my opinion, and this comes in the form of the reflective piping around the ankle collar.

You'd think we'd be finished by now on the detailing front, right? But no, adding to the already class details, the shoe is sat on top of an off-white midsole, and has everyone's favourite gum coloured outsole. As a little reminder as to who the brains are behind this collaboration, the famous Footpatrol gas mask comes in a black and gold swing tag. Finally the vibrant Red New Balance logo situated on the heel and the outsole is a nod to both the bookmarker found in the reference book and the flagship colour used on the NB logo.

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With the release set for Saturday 24th January, Footpatrol and New Balance personally selected a small number of people, mainly press and loyal customers to join them for a special preview of the Footpatrol Encyclopaedia 'Knowledge is Key' 1500. The event took place at the stunning Library on St. Martin's Lane, an exclusive private members club just off London's famous Leicester Square, and this is where the original shots featured above were taken.

Here we would also be treated to a personal Q+A with the New Balance team - Tom Henshaw, Andy Okolowicz, Chris Hodgson, and Jamie Metcalfe, as well as an insight into the Footpatrol shoe, while being able to indulge in some fine food and drink. It's quite rare to be treated to events of this form, as usually it's just a case of a venue with some music and lots and lots of beer, but the efforts that both NB and Team FP went to organise this classy event fits in with the whole theme of the collaboration perfectly.

When we talk about New Balance, and discuss things online, a lot of the information is taken from various websites, or stuff you've picked up through the years, but to be sat down with people like Chris and Andy, and be able to tap into their comprehensive knowledge of all things NB, whether it's creative or technical, it really is quite something. Hats off to Jimmy and the rest of Team Footpatrol too, who were more than happy to discuss any aspect of their great project, and obviously like us who were just grateful to be in the room, they were grateful to be one of the very few who are given the opportunity to work with New Balance UK and produce such a stunning shoe.

When you think about this project in more depth, and as was pointed out by Jimmy of Footpatrol, the use of the Encyclopaedia Britannica as inspiration for a Made in UK New Balance is very appropriate, especially since the Encyclopaedia has a long standing tie to British heritage - it even has a thistle for it's logo! The Encyclopaedia is high quality to touch, and craftmanship is something that New Balance pride themselves on, especially when it comes down to materials, with only the finest being used on this project. One particular interesting fact mentioned by Chris Hodgson in relation to materials was that the leather used throughout the shoe, is in fact, waterproof, and it was sourced from English tanneries.

The New Balance 1500FPK sees a production run of around 1320 pairs, which doesn't seem like all that many, but be sure to keep your eyes open for a worldwide release soon, but in the mean time, check out some pictures below from the event.

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WOMFT - New Balance 860NSM

New Balance no longer produce the 860, which is a shame really as it's one of the great Made in England models from yesteryear. The majority of them seem to pop up on eBay now and again for dirt cheap, so it's always worth a search.

I think these may be from around 2007 or similar, not sure on an exact date. The 860 also lacks a heel counter which is pretty unusual, some people aren't big fans of this but I quite like it. I love this pair mainly because of the gold coloured N, it reminds me of great era of UK Made New Balance, but you can never really go wrong with a navy suede and mesh shoe, particularly when the quality and shape is as good as this!

I had always wondered why there was no heel counter on the 860, so when I got the chance, I asked someone at Flimby, and their answer was basically cost, as the 860 was brought in as a cheap/budget model.

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New Balance Museum - Sneakerness Warsaw

teaser As many of you know, Sneakerness travels all across Europe from city to city to put on events, and they never fail to have something special on show. Amidst all the trainers for sale, and brand showcases, the team at New Balance Poland and Suede&Mesh put together a one of a kind New Balance Museum.

The New Balance Museum showcased the history of New Balance, with more than 80 vintage pairs on show, starting with the first ever official New Balance running shoe - The Trackster.

With pairs donated from the Suede&Mesh crews own collection, along with those of renowned collectors Tiago Escada Ramos and Mike Sekinger, the vintage selection on show was nothing short of incredible, and they ranged from 1967 all the way through to 1999, pieces of history indeed.

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The picture above shows the very first New Balance models from 1967 on the left hand side with the famous New Balance Trackster.

Along with the stunning selection of vintage pairs, the current UK Made and USA Made collection was on show, and displayed in furniture which was created especially for the Museum.

Some of the recent favourites, such as the New Balance 997PR, 998MD, and of course the upcoming Flimby 1500 Gentleman's Choice Pack were displayed.

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It is unheard of to have such a vast collection of vintage pieces all on display in the one place, so this was an extremely rare exhibition, and quite possibly the first in history. Let's hope we see more of this sort of stuff in years to come.

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Furthermore, Flimby in the UK pride themselves on craftmanship, and all their pairs are hand made in that historic factory in Cumbria. This year was the anniversary of one of Flimby's most popular models, the 577, and the Museum featured a wall which detailed the stages of creating the 577ANN, from all the pieces of panelling, right up to the complete production shoe.

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The whole exhibition was finished off with a special Flimby movie presented on the wall, a truly excellent exhibition and something that everyone should be able to check out.

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All pics via Sneakerness Warsaw/Piotr Ciezkowski.

Be sure to check out the video below too:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw26-wkQDuQ]

New Balance 577RRK + 577OOK

The New Balance 577 is a classic archive running shoe from the 80’s, and a must have in any collection, so the fact that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the model, it's only right that we see some stunning colourways, and some other special releases.

We’ve been screaming out for some 577 goodness, especially because we’ve seen so many stunning pairs release in years gone by. However, in recent times, this model, much like most of the Flimby made product, has been let down by the shape. This seems to be an on-going issue but it looks like we are finally seeing some improvements, which is a massive plus for us!

The first two colourways of the 577 to drop this year were the 577RRK and the 577OOK, and we will take a closer look at both of them here. First off, both are Made in England at the famous Flimby factory and they both share extremely similar colourways. The 577OOK is decked out in an orange and black upper, and the 577RRK in a red and black upper, with both pairs using a combination of a premium suede upper and mesh underlays. We see an unusual style of colour blocking on these pairs, almost a tale of two halves if you must, with the front and middle portion of the shoes wielding either the red or orange, and the rear of the shoe has been blacked out except for the heel tab. Both pairs feature a two-piece N with black backer, traditional heel counter and the shoes are sat on the iconic 577 ENCAP sole unit.

As mentioned previously, one of the first things we look for is shape, and the improvements are very noticeable. We’ve seen a toe puff creep into all UK models in the past couple of years, and it creates structure and support, but it is a little too defined and leaves the toe box looking excessively bulky. However, in these two pairs, we don’t have a toe puff, merely just the upper material, but through the use of what looks and feels like a side shaper, this keeps the toe box stretched and therefore we have a much sharper shape.

These two New Balance 577’s are a great start to this iconic models anniversary year, and we are eagerly waiting to see what else New Balance release.

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New Balance 577AS - Audrey Stewart - Centenary Edition

In this day and age, it's rare to get a pair of trainers from this Flimby era that are still in this condition - (Deadstock, that is) - but when you do, there's always some enjoyment in lacing them up for the first time. The pair featured here is a stone-cold Flimby classic, well, theres three to be precise, but this pair is one of them. If you asked any New Balance aficionado to name three models that are Flimby favourites, I reckon they'd name the 577, 670 and 1500, actually, I'd be willing to put money on that. But if we wanted to stretch that further and choose colourways of the 577 for example, 99% would most likely say the 577NG (navy/grey) and it's no wonder when this colourway is a cult classic.

The New Balance factory in the UK is located at Flimby, near the Lake District, and behind every good factory, are it's loyal workers. New Balance was founded in 1906 as 'New Balance Arch Support Company' and when 2006 came around, it was time to celebrate New Balance's 100 year anniversary. For this celebration, NB were to produce three limited edition trainers to honour it's three longest serving employees; Audrey Stewart, Ian Byers and Victor Dixon, who each have around 70 years of work between them at the Flimby factory, these are our 'Flimby heroes'.

This celebration would be kept simple but effective, with the original grey/navy colourway being used on the three models, and only 1906 pairs will be produced. This may seem a large quantity when we compare it to numbers of store collaborations of around 120 units, but trust me, these pairs are harder to come-by than some of the rarest collaborations. Maybe it's because they were bought, worn and appreciated like they should be, or some other reason, but if you have the set then consider yourself lucky!

Before we focus on one specific shoe, I thought you would enjoy a look at each pair from the Centenary Edition pack, so check them out below. (All images by Dean Chalkley).

Audrey Stewart who appears on the 577 is the longest serving of our Flimby Heroes and she has been working in the stitching department for almost 25 years when 2006 came around.

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Victor Dixon appears on the 670 and he has been with the company since 1982. He is currently the warehouse operative but used to be in the shoe making teams.

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Ian Byers who appears on the 1500 has also been working with New Balance since 1982 and works as the 'toe and side laster'.

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Just for reference, the model codes are as follows - 577AS, 670VD and 1500IB.

Now that you've got an overview of the project, here's a little bit about the 577AS with some detailed images and on-foot shots.

In my person opinion, the 577 is the best of the pack, and it's made even sweeter because of the fact that the 577NG is produced and released every year with a consistently higher price but a consistently lower quality, which the price definitely doesn't justify. However, the Audrey Stewart version of the 577, mainly because of the time it was produced (577NG from this time frame are the same quality), has a lush premium suede upper with premium nubuck and mesh underlays in a navy and grey colourway. Like I said, simple but effective. The AS features a tongue tab with a graphic on it of hills and a windmill, rather than the traditional text. One of the major plus points of the AS is the shape; because it is from 2006, this pre-dates Flimby's experimenting with toe puffs and therefore the down-hill of the 'sharp wedge' shape that is sought after so much.

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Each pair comes with a Flimby Hero specific hangtag and Play Mobil like model (includes a little questionnaire), a certificate of authenticity, special insoles and tissue paper.

WOMFT - New Balance 1500CHF x Hanon Shop

Towards the end of last year I managed to pick up a second pair of this shoe, and to be honest, I don't own many doubles, but with this pair being one of my favourites, it really is necessary. As always, Hanon Shop ALWAYS deliver when it comes to a collaboration no matter what brand it is, and this 1500 was no different. Since 2010, in my humble opinion, Made in UK NB have been dealing with shape woes when it comes to their models, and the GR's were gradually going downhill and starting to have a horrific banana shape teamed with a bulbous toe box, so when news leaked of Hanon collaborating with Flimby, we were all wondering the same thing....

Will Flimby sort it out??

The answer was yes, well, for this release anyway.

The guys at Hanon were well aware of the shape issues and pushed for it to be corrected for this release. The CHF used a different mesh to a normal 1500, a softer type which can be found on the 576NGA, and they also pushed and pushed for Flimby to use a different toe puff (the piece of material we hate). NB state that the toe puff creates structure and shape to the shoe, which yes, is correct, however, it gives the shoe this hideous bulbous appearance due to the size of said toe puff. Therefore, Hanon requested that a different and smaller toe puff be used.

It goes without saying that if the 1500CHF had been produced with the same shape of GR's at their time then they wouldn't be as much as a loved and sought after shoe as they currently are.

The 1500CHF was released back in 2012 and pays homage to 30 years of Flimby, with colourway and material ideas taken from iconic colourways on the 577 and 576 model. You really can't go wrong with suede and mesh and navy/blues/greys when it comes to New Balance.

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