With their new line “Numeric” New Balance is entering the skateboarding industry. Their announcement has been met with a wide range of opinions, and while some have been very positive from New Balance enthusiasts others have been a little more lackluster, to put it gently. Skaters spent years finding their own solutions to their problems, whether it be slicing Vans silhouettes into half cabs, or building their own boards from roller skate wheels and plywood, and eventually began starting their own companies such as Element, Plan B, Enjoi which fulfilled the needs of other skaters and found success through the niche market no one else was interested in. Now skateboarding means big bucks, with the largest evidence being Nike’s emergence with “Nike SB.” Many skaters argue that Nike entered the industry throwing cash at the best skaters, stealing them from grassroots companies, and developed shoes that have only decreased in quality as their presence has grown. Now these original companies have been struggling financially, and skaters find themselves with little way to fight back.
And now New Balance, long seen by many as the antithesis of style, has entered the scene. Why should this be any different?
The answer is simple. While New Balance is a corporation whose motive is making money, they know how to reach a niche market successfully. The best experts to ask about this? Runners. While the low end sneakers are far from high quality, their “true” running shoes hit the highest standards of the market. Virtually all serious runners won’t argue over New Balance’s superiority to Nike. Within their community, New Balance is widely known for the quality of their construction, fit, and technology. If New Balance approaches the skate industry as they do the running one, they will have one hell of a skate shoe.
So far, New Balance has been taking the right steps. It’s clear that any approach to this market from them would be unpopular, but they have at least intrigued many critics by direction they’ve taken thus far. This was primarily a result of the announcement they’d be working closely with Black Box distribution. Well known in the skate community for being genuine and original, this was the best choice they could have made, and a good introduction. At the Long Beach Trade Show they announced their first rider, and showed the first samples of their product, and a lot of people are thinking their may be some potential here. But all this means nothing until the shoe is on the foot, and people are giving them a try.
The biggest obstacle Numeric faces is the preconceived ideas the skate community has about New Balance, and they’ve approached the situation as well as they can, at least now it seems that some are willing to try them out, and we’ll see if the shoe can speak for itself. Personally I feel like it really is shitty that big name brands are overpowering the originals, but with a capitalistic economy it’s pretty much inevitable, and I’m excited that we can hopefully expect higher quality from this name. More images and links are available after the jump, let me know your opinion in the comments section, I’d love to hear from more serious skaters than I.