It was inevitable that people would flock to the New Balance M997 on its reissue earlier this year (those 997 uppers on 999 soles, nice as they are, don't count) in American-made form by a team that had to learn to make this one like they did in 1990 all over again. In grey or navy it was a no-brainer until we saw the price and that separated the casual fans from the fiends. Over the last few seasons, US-made New Balance has slowly crept up in price and even the once sub-£100 Flimby NB has crossed into triple digits — materials, labour and other costs don't come cheap, so the days when we had a product in our hand that had us wondering whether NB could make any profit off of it are done. Just as we start seeing new 997 colourways of this shoe it seems to have hit the £170 mark and we're reliably informed that the price of US-made pieces may well rise some more, while Jordans are set to raise their RRPs in line with an increase in quality.
We wondered how some shoes that were expensive in 1985 could stay similar in terms of pricing almost 30 years later and we used to marvel at how Jordan Vs in 2006 cost less than they did in 1990. It transpires that inflation would hit hard in the years that followed and the price for well-made shoes seems to be an RRP that adds a level of hesitancy to any intended impulse buy. But for all our gripes and skinflint talk, in terms of shape and quality, the 997 is as good as it gets. This edition brings new colours to the shoe and after the initial disappointment of that sole not being gum, seeing this model in a new palette hasn't ruined the appeal. The orange, ivory and brown of the M997PR works (this is part of the Author's Collection that seems to be based on American literature) and this one warrants premium status — the materials are excellent and the use of contrast stitch is sparing. That price tag is pretty shocking though but you can have these or you can have a synthetic tech spaceboot (not that there's anything wrong with that) for the same amount. This shoe arrives next month.