It’s no secret that New Balance has absolutely stolen the show in 2021, appearing on IG feeds and in retailers across the globe. The key to the brand’s massive resurgence has been the coveted collaborations racked up over the last few years. From Aimé Leon Dore to Stone Island, New Balance has stepped outside its comfort zone, teaming up with trend-led brands to bring their iconic products to a brand-new audience. Updating some of their OG silhouettes with new colourways, details and fabrics – without sacrificing on the functionality NB shoes are known and loved for – New Balance’s trajectory is just up, up and up. We’re taking a deep dive into some of 2021’s best NB collabs and taking a closer look and how they took the throne during a year that’s been anything but normal. 

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance

Founded in Queens, New York, Aimé Leon Dore first collaborated with New Balance in 2019 with the duo dropping a collaborative NB997, quickly followed by a 990v2 and a 990v5. 2021 is where the partnership really stepped things up, dropping the Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 550. A re-take on one of NB’s most iconic silhouettes, this capsule championed the vintage aesthetic, elevating it with rich hues, premium fabrics and ALD branding. Crowd-favourite colourways include the New Balance 550 x Aime Leon Dore White Green, the New Balance x Aime Leon Dore White Red Blue and, of course, the white and grey hue. 

Salehe Bembury x New Balance

Mostly known for his work with Versace, Selehe Bembury is a New York-based footwear designer with a penchant for bold colourways, new-school silhouettes and luxe fabrics. Taking this ethos into New Balance, Bembury and NB have produced some of 2021’s most statement sneakers, pushing the Boston-born brand outside of their box and bringing them into a whole new style era. 

One of the most notable styles to come out of the collaboration is the New Balance 2002R x Salehe Bembury Orange. A bright orange sneaker crafted from premium brushed suede, hits of blue and yellow are added to make this sneaker impossible to miss. Other essential styles from the partnership include the New Balance 574 x Salehe Bembury Yurt Team Forest Green, the 574 Yurt Shark Skin and the 2002R Salehe Bembury Be The Guide. 

BAPE x New Balance

A streetwear staple since 1993, A Bathing Ape (AKA BAPE) is a Japanese-born brand known for its star logo, shark motif and fondness for camouflage print. Infusing the legendary New Balance 2002R with all these signature details, the New Balance 2002R x BAPE Grey Camo is dubbed one of the best streetwear partnerships to come out of 2021. Dressed in camo print with BAPE’s shark teeth on the heel, supple suede delivers the luxe aesthetic both brands are known for, while a reflective panel makes for a trend-led spin. Released alongside a black-and-green iteration, this collaboration is definitely one for the history books. 

Levi’s x New Balance

2021 saw the iconic coming together of two history-defining American brands. Of course, the blue jean wouldn’t be where it is today without Levi’s, and running-shoe technology was brought to the forefront of sports by New Balance, so this collab truly celebrates the link between fashion and function. The Levi’s x New Balance capsule collection is made up of two upgraded 990v3s. Both crafted with denim panels and supple suede, this shoe pays homage to the true essence of American style: denim and dad shoes. 

JJJJound x New Balance

Following on from their crowd-favourite collection that landed in 2020, JJJJound and New Balance teamed up once again to release the New Balance 990v4 x JJJJound Navy in October 2021. Sticking to the 990-inspired silhouette, Canadian-born brand JJJJound utilised the same suede as seen on the 2020 iterations, while elevating the silhouette with breathable mesh panels and extra branding on the heel. Presented in a deep navy hue that’s perfect for the autumn season, this definitely won’t be the last we see of the JJJJound and New Balance partnership.