This is a perfect shoe.
We know people might note the contradiction between our love of this shoe and our hatred of pre-aged details, but here's the thing — it looks great and having seen a vintage UK-made pair at New Balance's Flimby HQ, that heel counter has taken on a similarly curious hue. If you've been into New Balance for more than 5 years, you'll remember these dropping for the 20th anniversary of the M576 back in 2008. While you needed to know your stuff to see the differences between UK and US M1300s and the 2010 commemorative OG reproduction, the differences between this pair and the usual UK-made M576s are visible in that different sole unit, with the squared off heel and absorbent insert. Beyond that completely different sole unit, the 'N' seems a little wider too. After the original anniversary drop, we assumed that New Balance would make this variation an inline standard, but they let it stay special — a rarity in the cash-in era. But here they are again for the 25th anniversary.
Our first ever shoe collaboration was the legendary quartet of M576s, back in 2004 (with work commencing in 2003 — 10 years ago), but our love for this model isn't just sentimental. This is one of the best running shoe shapes ever. We get a little bogged down trying to map the history of this model (experts will be able to fill the gaps). The New Balance M576 debuted as a shoe for bigger feet, over-pronation and supination, or aggressive wear. It was a model that was built to last. It dropped alongside the supportive M676, which we believe was more commercially successful than the M576. The M675 was released around 1987 (we're open to corrections) and industry tales abound of the shoe's failure leading to the manufacture of the 576, but we're not sure if they're apocryphal stories that build on the convenience of reverse numbers. There's also UK-made M675s from 1987/88 that reinforce how different it was to the M576, from the sole to the upper, despite a similar silhouette.
When the UK-made M576 reappeared alongside the M572 during the 1998 boom in retro New Balance, it had the sole we still see on the shoe in 2013 rather than the one on these birthday versions. We have no idea why — presumably that was the ENCAP sole available at the time. Maybe it's a lighter, more effective one, but it doesn't look as good. The NGA navy colourway looks good with anything — you really would have to be failing to not make these work. The white box that correlates with the sockliners is a nice touch too. The suede is beautiful, the pigskin is soft and you need these. Even if you don't know you need them, you do (Wes Anderson knows what time it is when it comes to this model).
Supposedly limited to a few hundred pairs globally, retailing at £110 and not due to return until 2018 the New Balance M576NGAs
are in the Crooked Tongues store right now, with the grey M576SGA set to arrive in a week or so. You really would need to work for NASA (whose scientists were mentioned in the old M1500 ad back in the day) to truly comprehend the entire wealth of numbers and variants NB has put out, but in the meantime, we've put a picture of the old, weathered pair we spotted a Flimby at the bottom of this page.