New Balance Real Ale Event

The last Wednesday of July, as NB Gallery, we headed to Cockermouth, a town in Cumbria, England, for the official global launch of the New Balance Real Ale Pack, and boy was it good. The hospitality over the few days that we were there was absolutely faultless, big big shout to all those involved for nailing the event. The plan was to arrive in Cockermouth and check into the Allerdale Court Hotel, easily one of the nicest hotels I've stayed in - rooms, bar, breakfast, and staff all excellent, and in the perfect spot in this lovely Lake District town. Fashionably late, we arrived, checked in, and were greeted by a NB Welcome Pack filled with goodies, such as a pair of the Real Ale CT300's, beer mats, ale, NB USB, and our intinerary for the next few days.

We then made our way up the road to the Trout Hotel, where there was a buffet and drinks laid on in the Derwent Restaurant, and we caught up with old faces, and met plenty of new ones, and talked footwear, and drank beer into the early hours of the morning.

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Sucking it up the next morning, with a bottle of water in hand, we passed on the morning run as sport and hangovers don't mix, and instead chilled with some breakfast before being picked up outside our hotel by an amazing vintage styled bus which would take us to the New Balance Flimby Factory. Upon arriving at the Flimby Factory, we were taken to the conference room were the Real Ale Pack was on display, along with some of the team's favourite past NB releases. We watched the Real Ale Pack promotion video, and then were taken on a guided tour of the factory, which will never ever not be amazing.

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Upon completion of the factory tour, we were treated to a question and answer session with some of the NB team, again, just one of the amazing things on the intinerary. It's always great to get the opportunity to ask these guys questions, and gain an insight into what they get up to working for NB.

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To conclude the morning, a quick jaunt in the factory shop, before hopping back on the bus and heading to the Bitter End Pub in Cockermouth for some lunch!

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Treated to fish and chips at the quaint little Bitter End Pub up a tight side street in Cockermouth, we then took the opportunity to grab ourselves one of the allotted times to have some personal one-to-one interview time with the NB team at the Allerdale Court Hotel. Myself and Arek of Suede&Mesh came together for our interview slot, and you can find the full write up of the interview here.

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As myself, Rob, and Arek managed to secure the 1500, 576, and CT300, we decided to go explore Cockermouth a little to find some nice spots to take some shots of the pack, and you can see these shots below.

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So you're wondering where the Real Ale part of the pack comes in, right? Well, Thursday evening was set aside to head over to Jennings Brewery where we were given a guided tour of the brewery and learned how traditional British ale is brewed. A big shout out has to go to our guide Sharon, who was both extremely knowledgeable and welcoming throughout, awesome job.

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What is there to do after a guided tour of a brewery? Well, eat some food and try out the ale that is brewed there, served straight out of the Ale Bar at Jennings.

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I must admit, when I first seen the itinerary for the event, one of the things I was looking forward to the most was the NB Pub Quiz. Honestly, I'm not competitive, I swear... After being cheated out (not really) of a 'who can lace the shoe the fastest' competition (mine were perfect, no joke), it was time for our 'NB Gallery' round. In all honesty, our questions were both a little ridiculous and a little hard, but it made for good entertainment anyway. The scores were totalled up, and our team, the 'Chosen Few' were overall winners, with only something like three points separating the teams. We were presented with this lovely engraved tankard, a really neat prize for sure. Big shout to the quiz master Joe who done a solid job!

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More beer and laughs followed, and then sadly it was time to depart Jennings Brewery, but we headed back to the Trout Hotel to continue where we left off.

It has to be said, New Balance really know how to put on an event. Some of the best people, plenty of food and drink, too many laughs, and just excellent hospitality all round. Big props to all those involved!

NB Gallery @ SoleBloc

For the SoleBloc event in Glasgow on August 1st 2015, with New Balance Gallery being official sponsors, we decided to create a showcase of New Balance footwear, along with various pieces of New Balance memorabilia. Our aim was to have something for everyone, covering all things New Balance, with 250+ pairs, from vintage models, to collaborations, to the most recent releases. There was to be many shoes on display from some of New Balance’s most well know collaboration partners, such as the complete set of Hanon Shop shoes, and shoes from Solebox, SNS, and Crooked Tongues, as well as never before seen samples.

We never anticipated that our exhibit would turn out the way it did when we started setting up on Friday, but we are extremely happy with the outcome, and with the reaction of those who attended the event.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures, because there's lots of them!

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As well as the main display, we had a number of cabinets surrounding it, so here are some pictures detailing what was inside.

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Also, thanks to my good friends Mark Watson and Sean Taylor for providing me with the full New Balance x Solebox 1500 set which was absolutely amazing to have on display.

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With New Balance stepping back into the football world, we felt it was necessary to have some football boots on display, as well as the most recent Visario pair, thanks to Joe Connolly for letting us borrow them.

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The third and final cabinet was used as just a mixture of everything and anything, including some stunning vintage New Balance 997's.

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The space at SWG3 which we used for the exhibition was absolutely perfect, and there was a particularly good view from the roof.

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We provided everyone who swung past the event with an in person look at the recent New Balance MD1500 Deconstructed Size? Exclusives, and thanks to Krate&Co for supplying some boxes.

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With over 250+ shoes on display, we didn't want all the pairs to get lost in the pictures of the full exhibition, so take a look at some detailed pics of various pairs that were on display below.

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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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WOMFT - New Balance 1500FPK x FootPatrol 'Encyclopaedia'

This pair of Made in UK New Balance 1500FPK, a collaboration between New Balance and FootPatrol London, has been getting quite a bit of wear in recent weeks, but never got around to grabbing any on-foot shots. Actually, I think the only on-foot shot I've taken of these was when I returned from London after being at the Private Preview for the shoe. You can check out my write up for the event here.

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New Balance 997CGR and 997DCS

My love affair with the Made in USA New Balance 997 continues, and I was trying to hold off for as long as possible on buying these two new pairs, but when Leicester based store Wellgosh tagged me in a picture of them on Instagram, I just couldn't help myself, I had to have them. As well as the shoes arriving at my door in less than 24 hours, the good people of Wellgosh also threw in some NB POS that they had left over, a nice little touch and I'm extremely grateful!

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Anyway, on to the shoes.

First up, let's take a look at the New Balance 997CGR in some closer detail, and then some on-foot shots.

This pair has been dubbed "Pumice Stone", and features a tonal grey pigskin suede upper with mesh underlays, and merlot accents on the plastic heel counter and N backer. There are also some lovely 3M hits on the N and toe panel. However, the shoe comes with these strange patterned laces which look pretty out of place on the shoe, so I had to get rid of those and swap them for a clean white set.

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Secondly, and the star of the show in my opinion, the New Balance 997DCS "Dusty Olive" as some have been calling it. This pair features a lush olive green nubuck upper, and tan leather accents, which compliment that olive colour perfectly. I know the durable canvas material on the toebox isn't everyone's first choice, but like on the 997DOL it is excellent on this shoe and a great choice from NB.

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Again, a big thanks to Wellgosh for the love, head over to wellgosh.com to grab these.

WOMFT - New Balance 1500CBW

This is a little latest pick-up of mine, and I really couldn't wait to get them on-feet, so took them for a spin yesterday evening down near the harbour. The New Balance 1500CBW, has probably my favourite material combination - nubuck and leather. The little series that New Balance UK done of these was just sublime - 1500CBW, NGW, BGW and SGW. Luckily I have three out of the four, just trying to track down the NGW then I'll have the complete set of probably my favourite 1500's.

I forget when these were from, I think it was maybe 2006? Correct me if I'm wrong, but anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures, dolphins and lighthouses included.

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WOMFT - New Balance 860BTO

I've probably mentioned it before, but I've got a bit of a thing for 860's at the moment, with a few more pairs still on their way to me. I really need to do a group shot or something as some of the colourways really are great, a forgotten UK model if you must. If only NB UK would bring it back along with the UK Made 1300, that's all I ask! Anyway, this is one of my latest pick ups, they're pretty beat but I gave them a quick scrub with Sneakers ER and it gave them some life, however, there are some patches of suede that are beyond repair - that won't stop me from wearing them though.

I took these New Balance 860BTO from the mid-2000's for a spin round some woods near mine with my girlfriend so I hope you enjoy the shots.

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WOMFT - New Balance 997CCF

Another recent addition to the family is the New Balance 997CCF, which I actually grabbed from the NB store in New York last month. One of my absolute favourite 997 colourways so far. I've been doing a lot of WOMFT posts recently, but once I get the chance, I'll take some off-foot shots and turn these posts into more detailed ones I reckon, but until then, I hope you enjoy.

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New Balance 997DOL

I was just going to do a WOMFT post for this shoe, but my girlfriend decided to take some off-foot shots of them, so I figured I'd add some text, rather than just the 3 or 4 pictures.

Anyway, the New Balance 997DOL from the 'Distinct Weekender Pack' for Spring/Summer 2015, another one of the many 997's which have released recently. I'm definitely not tired of the model, but I must admit, I am getting tired of the amount of colourways there are, New Balance need to slow it down a bit, especially with the high retail price that these hold, our money trees won't allow 2/3 pairs of these every few months.

The 'Distinct Weekender' Pack is said to evoke memories of iconic waxed canvas bags overflowing with weekend essentials. Fair enough, if this shoe somehow evokes those memories for you then cool. I just think it's a great colourway on a great model.

The DOL features a powder blue suede upper, with tan leather and a lovely blue canvas material on the toe and heel. The brick red outsole then adds a perfect contrast against the white midsole on this 997. The also have a waxed style lace set which were an absolute nightmare to lace up in comparison to NB's normal laces but that's minor.

These are getting put away for summer, banging shoe.

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