New Balance 515 vs. New Balance 574: Everything You Need To Know
The story of New Balance and the company’s humble beginnings is an unconventional one. As William J. Riley surveyed the chickens running around the backyard of his Boston home, he became interested in their feet. He noticed that their feet seemed to be perfectly balanced. He noted this balance to the three-point anatomy of the chicken’s foot.
When designing footwear, the industry tends to focus on vertical design, which means starting with the top and working down to the sole. The chickens inspired Riley to start with the underfoot and work his way up. This resulted in the Trackster model, a shoe that was the first to feature the ripple sole design that is more popular today.
The Trackster, the company’s first piece of footwear, also allowed customers to customize their fit by choosing different widths. This was another first in the world of running shoes. Thus, the New Balance Arch Support Company was born. Since its inception, the company has had a number of sneaker styles, but perhaps two of the most popular are the 515 and the 574.
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Part of the New Balance Classic collection, the 515 is a low top running kick. It is a vintage-inspired silhouette with a low profile with contemporary elements. Although intended to be marketed and sold as a lifestyle sneaker, the 515 works great for wearing during your daily routine and errands as well as for low-impact athletic activities. This shoe has been described as having superb comfort and, to quote one reviewer, is like “walking on a cloud.”
The Achilles heel and collar entrance are padded for extra comfort while the outsole consists of a durable rubber that supplies stability and grip. It also has a wide toe box that allows the wearer to use an orthopedic footbed insert for additional support if needed. The NB 515 has some of the brighter colorways in the New Balance collection.
A multi-colored EVA midsole is located at the bottom along with a removable EVA insert providing cushioning and comfort. It is also important to note that this particular shoe provides ample arch support which is great news for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. The shoe uppers are made of different materials like mesh, suede, nubuck, leather, and nylon. The best part? They typically retail for around $70 so you can own as many pairs in as many colorways as your heart desires.
For New Balance sneakers, generally speaking, the higher the model number, the more technical the shoe is. The lower the number is, the shoes become more lifestyle based. Between the original Trackster and the 574 came eight other models – the 320, 420, 576, 620, 670, 990, and 1300. New Balance had a reputation for having innovative sneakers with a hefty price tag, so in 1988, the company introduced the NB 574, the company’s version of a lifestyle shoe that was originally introduced as an economy runner, best for pedestrian situations and light workouts, at a lower price point.
The classic silhouette of the 574 includes ENCAP cushioning which is known for its shock absorption quality and durability. The lightweight EVA foam cushioning in the arch and heel helps the sneaker mold to your feet as you wear them. They are also available in three different widths.
Like the 515, this sneaker is also known for its colorway options. Previous New Balance sneakers were lacking a certain aesthetic. Besides the New Balance 574 Grey, this shoe has so many options of colors and patterns, which really helped up the ante in cementing New Balance as a fashion sneaker. This signaled a shift in how New Balance would continue to approach the footwear industry. The brand nailed the technical aspect, and now the 574 was nailing the style aspect as well.
New Balance broadened its reach in the world of sneakers with the 574. The big “N” logo, suede side, panels, new color palette, and lower price point made the brand more accessible. Ranging from $44.99 to $79.99, the 574 remains the brand’s best-selling model. With an ever-growing list of collaborators and being seen on the feet of Biz Markie, Jennifer Lopez, and Haily Beiber (to name a few) it is obvious this shoe is here to stay.
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How To Shop for the Right Pair of New Balance Sneakers
Even though New Balance sneakers may have a reputation as a “dad sneaker,” honestly, that just makes them that much cooler. Dad jokes, dad hats, and dad bods are all the rage so why not sneakers too? But with so many options to choose from (colorways aside) how do you know which pair is going to be best for you? Here is a handy dandy guide, straight from the New Balance crew themselves:
What do you want the shoes for? What is their purpose? Exercise, all-day comfort, walking, running, or purely just for style? Whatever the reason, our feet need constant protection and comfort so getting the shoe with the proper foundation for your daily needs is important.
Cushioning and padding is a very personal decision. Some people want to feel as though they are walking on a cloud with more padding, while others may prefer a more natural feel and want to feel the road underneath them. While the padding is there to protect your tendons, joints, and tissues by reducing impact, the amount of cushioning varies for a reason. A lightweight shoe might have less padding but that makes them better for running races or faster workouts. More cushioning is essential for everyday running and workouts to better absorb the repetitive impact.
Keep an eye on the material of the sneaker. This will not only determine the lifespan of the shoe, but also the level of comfort, breathability, and how much flex your foot will have. The sole of a shoe will always experience the most wear and tear. A harder rubber sole with a flatter outsole will last longer than one made of a softer rubber.
Last, but not least, consider the style of the shoe. You may care about colors and patterns or that might be the least of your concerns. Maybe you’re into more of a vintage and retro vibe or you want the latest and greatest modern design. Whatever your decision, New Balance has at least one sneaker for you.
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