The origins of the New Balance 550 can be traced back to 1989, when the collection came into prominence as a successor of the 480, the brand’s first foray into the world of basketball footwear. Designed by Steven Smith, whose portfolio also includes the 997, the NB 550 not only boasted an improved outsole for better grip on the court but also featured a visually appealing silhouette, which presented the company’s signature ‘N’ logo on its leather upper. One of the key problems of the 480, breathability, was also addressed using mesh, so players could exert themselves without overheating.
When Did New Balance 550 Come Out … Again?
Like most basketball shoes of the time, the low-top NB 550 adhered to NBA colour regulations with a mostly white colour scheme; minor deviations in colour blocking reflected specific teams. Unlike its competitors, however, New Balance struggled to find a loyal audience for its basketball sneaker, and it fell off the radar for decades.
Thankfully, the NB 550 made its triumphant return in 2020, revived by Teddy Santis of Aimé Leon Dore, who had discovered the old series in an aged Japanese catalogue. The retro trainer was given a new lease on life, with the classic design going mostly unaltered, save for some fresh colourways. To the relief of all involved, this second chance was enough to generate the hype the 550 had been denied on first release, and the runner is now recognised as one of the brand’s shining stars.
Why Should You Buy the NB 550?
Despite originating as basketball footwear, New Balance 550 shoes have grown into something with a much broader appeal. Their unique style lends itself to the wants of the modern sneakerhead, bringing back that retro feel. If this resonates with you, we strongly recommend that you browse the JD Sports Australia line-up, where you’ll find all the latest releases from the collection.