US-made New Balance is still the love of our lives.
The factories in Maine and Massachusetts are cranking out the best made shoes on the market right now, with the materials (actual suede on a shoe being a huge novelty) and shapes intact to make wearing these things to the point of destruction a joy. And it's not actually easy to annihilate a pair of M998s either. With one CT staffer wearing the same pair for nearly 10 months straight, provided you deftly dodge mud and clumsy feet, real suede defeats that more sensitive synthetic Fuzzy Felt style stuff every time. When the M998 made its first appearance in late 1992, it was up against some of the best New Balance running designs ever — by 1993 it had to hold its own against the M660, M860 and the M678, but the 99X series has always represented for a similar top tier to the four digit thousand styles (1300, 1500 and far beyond).
It's a good year to be a fan of this series too - the 996 made a strong comeback and the 990, the shoe that set it off, gets a rerelease soon too. We still want a US-made 997 (we heard rumours that seemed to amount to nothing) in our cupboards, but the 998 is still a masterpiece. When the model originally dropped, bringing Abzorb to NB disciples, it was typically greyed-out, but the options this model allows, with those panels, the plastic eyelets and the medial midsole. are substantial. But that was a time when fancy colours meant you weren't serious about your sport.
The M998GR makes good use of that upper, with the burgundy and black, but stays dignified (though the comedy serif font and number embroidery on the tongue amuses us with its quaint, home made look). But while you'd look mental if you broke out the Max 93s on race day in 2012, there's still those who swear by it as a performance shoe — hence the mighty Roadrunner Sports selling the OG makeup among contemporary offerings. These are in the store now and while the pricepoint might make your eyes bleed and your wallet whimper, you won't find a better shoe on the market.