At the first sign of feverish interest
, the majority of brands throw as many colours and concepts at a shoe as they can in order to capitalise. More often than not, they miss the point. A few years back, New Balance
US clocked some UK, US and Japanese collector hype and created some beautifully packaged SMUs of classics like the 1400 and almost good but too garish 998s. Like some kind of contemporary Aesop's Fable, we liked NB for what they were, but they took a while to realise that — it's not a brand that's about some kind of wacky SB-style executions, but it's about luxury performance. We wanted Jaguar X-Types, not clown cars. Having made shoes for Willie Nelson, fellow hemp enthusiast Bill Clinton and now Obama, NB's influencer list is one of the few that's riddled with the real deal. The M998OG is a perfect shoe. Normally we try to pick faults in a release — when a shoe is in the £120+ category (and sadly, the current climate means those prices are escalating), it has to be amazing, right? The 998 in brown is brilliant - that soft chocolate suede, the brown Scotchlite accents and that reflective charcoal 'N' all combine beautifully and the tonal treatment on the ridges of the medial midsole keep it clean. Sat atop some vanilla-like off-white, we're smitten. Even that strange, clunky serif font on the tongue seems charming rather than cheap in such premium company. 20 years after it debuted, the 998's still a reassuringly expensive release that starts comfy and becomes increasingly more comfortable over time to the point where we've been living in previous makeups for the last few months. The current NB explosion (as fueled by lots of Japanese stylists and Takahiro Miyashita) ain't subsiding any time. These arrive in the store later this week, and whether they're "on trend" or not, you need them in your life.