Photography by Sandy Dover Creative
Style Corner KICKS: Because you can’t rock basketball shoes all of the time.
There was a time that running shoes weren’t style icons in the fashion and footwear industries. Those times were early and much more utilitarian. Sneakers of any kind were usually fairly pedantic in style, and geared to be useful only in the arenas that they were built. Synthetics were wholly used on uppers. Heel-striking was the tried and true of the day. People wore the same shoe for everything and never made a point to rotate. Those times are long gone, but the New Balance 574 has not left us.
In the New Balance 574 Classic, we see now that the shoe has been able to survive the times, and not because of its formerly top-of-the-line running technology—we now see that what was once plain and stately is now a template and a canvas for reconstruction of a classic, a gateway for fashion to rear its present-day head into the lives of today’s consumer.
The 574 is introduced to the fall of 2012 in several categories—particularly, Heather Collegiate, Urban Sport, and Backpack—all of which have their own distinct characteristics, despite sharing the same 574 model, and that is the beauty of the shoe. Eschewing the lightweight meshes and textiles of today’s more favored materials, the 574 Classic possesses a variety of different textures and micro-looks that subtly give character to each shoe.
In the Heather Collegiate, the namesake grey is king. The toebox, tongue, and portions of the ankle are inset with heather grey cotton, soft and plush to the touch; grey suede is paneled on the heel, with New Balance’s trademark ENCAP midsole foam and heel counter in the same shade. Navy suede dominates the rest of the upper of the 574, with a soft, textile inner ankle lining that provides great comfort and fit.
Urban Sport makes use premium medium-knap suede and canvas on the upper. With the tan/burgundy, suede cradles the upper on all panels, save for the toe and ankle panels that are covered with soft canvas, but the highlights are really at the rear. Using deep-dyed suede parts, the Achilles’ heel and foxing are highlighted on the 574, with the brand name embossed into the heel leather (specifically unique to the foxing, the 574 usually utilizes a plastic heel counter piece that is sewn on, not a premium leather piece that is adhered on the Urban Sport version).
The Backpack collection of the 574 is literal—ballistic nylon mesh covers the entire upper (like you might find on your favorite L.L. Bean backpack from back in the day), but brings a hint of luxury with suede accents on the heel clip, the ‘N’ quarter logos, and a special diamond-shaped patch on the tongue (marking the shoe name and the New Balance ‘NB’ logo).
Holding the 574 down as a great lifestyle shoe, especially for off-court activities, is its comfort, durability and stability. No matter how antiquated the running shoe is today, the 574 is a shoe that can be worn with ease. It’s a shoe with a forgiving amount of width (but not too wide), it has a very stable foam that can hold your body’s weight for long periods of time while on your feet (but the cushioning isn’t hard), and it’s just plush enough to be forgiving to your feet when you want something easy to wear. In short, the 574 Classic is a shoe made for wearers, and any athletes looking to give their feet some style and some physical relief can find it—just look for three little numbers.
Sandy Dover is a feature writer and published author, multi-industry media producer, and a SLAM web columnist & print contributor whose work has been prominently featured and published by Robert Atwan’s “America Now”, Yahoo!, ESPN, and STACK. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline and contact him via his website at about.me/SandyDover.