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 x hanon shop samples

Following on from the NB Gallery exhibition at SoleBloc, we were lucky enough to have a full collection of hanon shop's collaborations with New Balance, which also included a number of samples which never had been seen before by people outside of hanon and NB. This opportunity was too good to waste, so I have taken a number of images, which also includes comparison shots with the released pairs, and detailed shots of some differences.

A huge thanks to Ed @ hanon, for lending me the samples for the exhibition.

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New Balance 577NIO Sample vs Released Comparison -

The differences between the Night Owl sample and the released pair are:

  • Perforated 'N' on sample pair.
  • Contrast stitching on sample pair.
  • C-Cap midsole on sample pair rather than Encap midsole.

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New Balance 990HSN1 Sample vs 990HSN Released -

There is only one difference between these two pairs, and that's the use of the golden colour on the sample, rather than the orange used on the released.

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New Balance 670 Ventile Sample -

Now, this shoe is my favourite sample from the lot, and it might actually be one of my favourite shoes I've ever had in hand. It is unreal, even these images don't do it justice.

As you know, hanon release two Ventile shoes as part of the 'Flying Club Pack', and this pair was a sample from that run, but as you can see, it has a number of differences, such as the big grey suede 'N', the use of nubuck on the upper, and grey midsole.

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New Balance 576 Bionic Prototypes -

New Balance and hanon came together with Eschler to create two shoes as part of the 'Bionic Majors', but if these samples are anything to go by, it seems like they had a lot of messing around before arriving at the released pairs. Some unusual materials, and colourways here, but pretty cool and unique in their own way.

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New Balance 1500CHF Samples vs Released Pair -

The grand finale, so to speak. The New Balance 1500CHF is probably the biggest New Balance collaboration to release in the last three years, and for the first time, we get to check out hanon's thought process on their way to releasing the final pair.

Every single one of these shoes are great, and I tried to cover all bases for each sample to be able to see the differences.

M1500 V1 -

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M1500 V2a -

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M1500 V2b -

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And of course, here is a round up of the three CHF samples along with the released 1500CHF.

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New Balance x Size? - Collaboration History

Size? was founded in 2000, and since then, they have become a household name, and have at least one store in every major city you could think of in the UK, along with expanding overseas last year into places such as Amsterdam, Paris, and Milan. With their growth, obviously comes power, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it sees Size? being at the forefront of working with brands to dive into their archives and bring out retros/reissues of your favourite footwear models. Most people know Size? for the vast amount of footwear, clothing and accessories that they sell in their stores, and on their large online store, however, every now and then, Size? collaborate with brands on all of these things, and in the early 2000's, they developed a pretty special relationship with the UK's own division of New Balance.

This post will take a look into the collaboration history between New Balance and Size?, however, the further back we go, to their first lot of collaborations it's really tough to get good information as there is little to none on the internet, and unless you were around at the time, it's pretty much impossible to source the information and pictures needed.

Luckily, if you dig hard enough, there are various pictures around, and these rare pairs pop up on social media now and again which is great to see. Also, I know some pretty great people who have vast amounts of knowledge from this time so they were a huge help.

Anyway, in the early 2000's, this was a time when New Balance collaborations, particularly Made in England pairs, were of a level of quality that will probably never be reached again. There is just such a vast amount of amazing colourways out there that also used some pretty exceptional and unique materials, and this is something that set NB apart from every other brand, and one of the reasons why I take such an interest in the brand.

There's no better example of the excellent work that the Flimby factory do than these early Size? collaborations, and credit to the people at Size? who came up with the colourways and material selections.

2005 - New Balance x Size? 577

This set of 4 pairs of 577 uses some of the best leather and suede around at the time, and comes in four simple, but yet stunning colourways.

The first is the New Balance 577ASZ, and is probably the rarest of the four now, as it never really gets seen these days. It has a predominantly leather burgundy/maroon upper with grey suede accents, and features perforated leather on the toebox.

New Balance 577ASZ -

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Image from NetForest

The second pair from the set is the New Balance 577BSZ, which uses various shades of brown leather and suede, again featuring a perforated toebox.

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Image from NetForest

Third up is the New Balance 577GSZ, again utilising premium leather on the predominantly green upper, with some clean white perforated leather on the toebox to finish it off.

New Balance 577GSZ -

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Image from XMode

Last but not least from this set is the New Balance 577SSZ, and is probably one of the pairs that we see the most from this pack. This pair features a mainly light blue upper with some dark blue and off-white coloured accents, and keeping in with the tradition, it has a perforated toebox but also has a gum outsole, which is something the others don't have.

New Balance 577SSZ -

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Image from NetForest

2006 - New Balance x Size? 577 'coup d'eclat'

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 it was inevitable that NB were to produce a good few limited edition pairs of shoes, and along with the three limited edition trainers to honour it’s three longest serving employees; Audrey Stewart, Ian Byers and Victor Dixon, there were also to be a run of New Balance x Size? collaborations.

Much like the collaboration in 2005, these are some of the best pairs to ever come from Flimby, and Size? excelled in utilising the black midsole, something which has only been done well very few times.

Below is a picture of the 5 shoes taken from the All Gone 2006 book:

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All Gone Book 2006

Below is a picture of the invitation that was given out for the special instore launch of the New Balance x Size? 577 release in 2006.

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There were 50 pairs which came with a larger special box which housed the standard Made in England New Balance box, and it is pictured below. They also came with miniature versions of the shoes and box, as well as special t-shirts made for the release and these were only available at the instore event at Size? Carnaby Street.

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Size? and New Balance created a pretty amazing pack named the 'coup d'eclat' and it was spread over several months throughout 2006. Each pair from the pack was based around a black and orange midsole, which is why these two colours are so prevalent throughout the uppers on each pair.

Each shoe used a mix of vibrant colours and some of the most premium materials available, including suede, mesh, and camo print leather.

As well as the release dates for the shoes being staggered throughout the year, they also had different quantities, which were all extremely limited.

First Release -

The first release was in June of 2006, and it featured 4 colourways; BGO, BGW, BWB, and PGB.

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Every shoe in the pack stands out on it's own, but the New Balance 577BGO is particularly great because of the camo leather on the upper, and this pair was limited to 120 pairs.

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Image from Skit Blog

New Balance 577BGW -

The New Balance 577BGW was meant to be limited to 90 pairs, and was designed by Matt Taylor, but the story goes that when they visited the Flimby factory, they chose some colours that were near the end of their rolls, so fewer pairs were made than planned.

577BGW - ran out of materials (90 something pairs) - Matt Taylor

Image from Kicksaholic

New Balance 577BWB -

Thirdly, the New Balance 577BWB seen a release limited to only 70 pairs, and was the second most limited out of both drops.

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Image from Kicksaholic

New Balance 577PGB -

Last but not least from the first drop, the New Balance 577PGB designed by John Brotherhood was the most limited of all the drops in 2006 as it was limited to only 60 pairs.

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Image from Kicksaholic

Second Release -

Following on from the first drop, the second drop featuring two pairs of 577 was released in November, and both these pairs were limited to 75 pairs each.

New Balance 577WGO -

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Image from Kicksaholic

New Balance 577GOW -

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Image from Kicksaholic

2007 - New Balance x Size? 577 'Fruity Clerks Pack'

Back again with more 577's, one of the most iconic UK Made models, and this time, this pack features some very fruity designs, with an array of pinks, purples and cyan teamed with a splattered midsole.  The shoes feature faux reptile skin on the upper, teamed with lush suede and perforated suede or perforated leather on the toebox.

The shoes were designed with old school fruit machines in mind, think one-arm bandits, bright flashing lights and 3 fruit jackpots of Plums, Strawberries and Bells. The colour scheme is no gamble (excuse the pun), and it was styled by one of the Size? crew from the Birmingham store.

Both colourways were limited to 250 pairs, and there were also matching New Era caps for both colorways, which were only available instore. The shoes also came with matching keyrings, check them out in the pictures below.

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New Balance 577WBP -

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New Balance 577WGP -

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Images from Kicksaholic

That wasn't all though, along with the release of the 'Fruity Clerks Pack' came another shoe, and probably the most elusive of all Size? collaborations, and maybe even New Balance UK collaborations - the 'Jackpot' 577.

The 'Jackpot' 577 were made exclusively for a competition and limited to only 4 pairs. Along with the 'Jackpot' 577, the first prize winner will take home one of the 2 New Balance Fruit Machines that were installed in Size? Carnaby Street and Covent Garden Stores at the time of release, and the second prize will win a pair of the Jackpot 577 shoes.

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Images via Highsnobiety

2010 - New Balance x Size? 577 'Estates Pack'

The New Balance x Size? 577 'Estates Pack' was brought out in 2010 to celebrate the stores 10 years anniversary, and the pack draws inspiration from the gradual transition of practical rural fashion into a modern trend in the city.

The first pair from the pack is the New Balance 577LQ -

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This shoe pays tribute to the modern city gents adaptation of traditional rural wear with a premium black leather and suede upper, mixed together with a woven quilter toebox and heel support.

The second pair from the pack is the New Balance 577CW -

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Images from Nice Kicks

This pairs comes in a mix of dark green, brown with popping orange accents in a leather and mesh upper, and the shoe is inspired by rural British fashion worn by city dwellers.

Both pairs are sat on a clean white traditional ENCAP midsole, and have a gum outsole. They also have a woven brand tab sewn onto the tongue and it transforms the style number into roman numerals (DLXXVII = 577) with 'shoe maketh the man' in Latin underneath the crest. As always, a shoe isn't really complete without a little bit of 3M, and this comes in the form of the N backer for both pairs. Limited to 250 pairs each.

2012 - New Balance x Staple Design x Size? 577 'Black Pigeon'

Staple Design aren't new to collaborating with New Balance, and neither are Size?, so when these two came together, we expected something special, but we're not exactly sure that these shoes lived up to that expectation.

Nevertheless, both Size? and Staple Design reworked a 577, a model which Size? have became so well known for collaborating on. This Made in England 577 came in a year that was celebrating 30 years of manufacturing at Flimby, and as always, this shoe features only the most premium of materials.

With the 'Black Pigeon' toughened up on his travels, the shoe features a heavy-duty construction with a honeycombed rip stop nylon toe-box and robust leather upper. Not forgetting the creature comforts, a soft pink felt lines the inner and adds extra warmth.
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Image from Proper Mag
2014 - New Balance x Size? Made in USA 574 'Harrods Exclusive'
Over the last few years, it probably felt like there was a Size? store popping up in every UK city, and even expanding abroad into other countries, a true testament to the size at which the retailer has grown. So, on that note, to mark the occasion of Size? opening their first pop-up in the world famous Harrods department store, they once again teamed up with New Balance, but this time, they created two Made in USA 574's.
The pack was inspired by Harrods' colourful food hall, and we see two bright colourways of the premium suede and mesh US574's. One of which has a Miami Dolphins-esque colourway of teal and orange, with hits of pink and grey, while the other has the inverse - grey and pink, with orange and teal accents.
Both colorways will only be available in a run of just 12 pairs each, making these some of the most exclusive New Balance collaborations yet. However, it was possible to create extremely similar colourways via the NB USA custom site if you happened to miss out and desired a pair of 574's in either of these colourways.
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Image from Hypebeast

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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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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LEAKS! - New Balance Spring/Summer 2015

There's been a few times that I've sat down and wrote a couple of pieces about 'leaks', but I've never actually posted one. It's a touchy subject for all brands/stores together, and for people who initiate leaks when they're not meant to that represent the brand/store, well, I can't imagine they'd be in their employer's good books. However, it is 2014 and the world has been engulfed in social media, whether it be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social platform there is, so it's pretty inevitable that leaks are going to happen. It's not all bad though as the consumer love leaks, and that's no word of a lie. There's nothing the next man wants more than a sneak peak at an upcoming collaboration with a store, or a couple of their favourite models from a brand's unreleased collection let slip and up for sale on eBay. It creates a huge amount of anticipation, and excitement amongst everyone and keeps them talking, which surely for the most part is good for the brand.

Anyway, that's a discussion for another time, I just wanted a brief introduction before I let loose some of these samples for New Balance Spring/Summer 2015 Collection, which were advertised for sale on eBay and Klekt. This was a month or so ago and they've been populating the world wide web ever since, so this isn't exactly the first time they've been seen.

So what's in store for Spring/Summer 2015? I had seen various pairs from this collection a couple of months before they surfaced on the internet, and only a few had really caught my eye.

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More of the same, that's for sure, the New Balance 997 is sticking around for a while, and although I welcomed back this model with open arms, much like the 990, it seems like it's going down the same road - at least two colourways every season, and then throw in a couple of collaborations. The word 'overkill' springs to mind, I'd of been more than happy sticking with the grey and navy pairs, then maybe a couple more.

New Balance 997DOL -

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New Balance 997JNB -997jnb - ss15 sample

On-to the New Balance 990 now, and just recently this model was made available on the US New Balance site for customisation, so now the possibilities are endless - material choices are currently limited to just suede and mesh.

We've seen a lot of 'Premium Packs' if you must, with a bunch of standard NB pack names to go along with them, 'Connoisseurs', 'Distinct', 'Author', etc etc etc, so we will be welcoming the Horween Leather 990 very soon.

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New Balance 990BHR -990bhr horween2 - ss15 sample

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What more can we expect from the Made in USA side of things for Spring/Summer 2015? Well, the New Balance 998 firmly holds it's place in the USA collection, along with maybe another 997, a premium 990 which looks really good, but the most exciting news about S/S 2015 is the USA Bringback Collection.

The USA Bringback collection will consist of the 990GRY, which you may remember was released not too long ago for it's 30th anniversary, so if you missed out then you'll have another chance to grab them. Along with that will also be a grey 998, possibly very similar, if not the same as the pair which Roadrunner Sports have been releasing for the last few years, and finally, the 1300JP (5 years since it's last release), probably the most anticipated shoe from the USA collection.

Made in UK -

The Made in UK side of New Balance is my forte, but for the last few years, it's all been pretty poor in my opinion, and that's not just because of the shape issue, the colourways and materials haven't exactly been up to scratch when you compare them with what Flimby were capable of pre-2010.

The usual UK models making an appearance, but not much to really talk about. A while back we seen some pics of the 'Gentleman's Choice' Pack and you can see one of the 1500's in all of their glory below.

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New Balance 1500NAV -1500nav - ss15 sample

New Balance 576PGT -576pgt - ss15 sample

Much like the Made in USA collection, Flimby have also been working on some premium packs, and one of them worth noting, probably only because of the 1500, which is guaranteed to be a winner with everyone. The only picture I can share is of the pack in the colours of the 'Union Jack', the red 1500, blue CT300 and the tip of the toebox of the white 577.

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Once the pre-orders are up at all the usual retailers, I will compile another post of both collections. Until then, enjoy speculating, I'm sure more leaks/teasers will appear soon.

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.

New Balance Centenary Audrey Stewart New Balance Centenary M577 Audrey Stewart

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.

New Balance Centenary Victor Dixon New Balance Centenary M670 Victor Dixon

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

New Balance Centenary Ian Byers New Balance Centenary M1500 Ian Byers

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.