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New Balance 574 and 327: Revived Classics or Modern Relics?

Sometimes there’s a fine line between retro and just plain old fashioned and, when it comes to sneakers, that line is sometimes blurred. In this article, we’re looking at New Balance 574 and 327 and asking the important question – are these revived classics or modern relics ?

Best foot forward

For a great many people, fashion begins on the ground – or on the feet, to be precise. Sneakers are a top footwear choice for millions of people worldwide, including celebrities such as Jamie Cullum and DJ Khaled who reportedly owns a whopping 10,000 pairs! Offering a sweet combination of style and comfort, around 1.2 billion pairs of sneakers are sold every year worldwide. 

A sporting chance leads to a fashion opportunity

Sneakers first stepped onto the scene in 1876 when the New Liverpool Rubber Company began manufacturing rubber soled shoes known as beach shoes, plimsolls or tennis shoes. As these names suggest, the shoes were designed for sports and leisure activities which required shoes that were comfortable and would not be easily ruined. 

In 1887, an article in the Boston Journal of Education referred to these shoes as ‘sneakers’ because of the fact that children wearing these shoes would delight in being able to sneak up on their teachers without being heard due to the shoes’ soft soles.

From gold medals to gold star fashion status

In the early 1920s, manufacturers across the globe began experimenting with different styles and fabrics for their sneakers and popularity began to grow. The sneaker’s place on the fashion front was firmly cemented in 1936 when athlete Jesse Owens smashed the Berlin Olympics wearing a pair of Dassler Brothers sneakers. 

New Balance elevates the sneaker sector

From humble beginnings, the sneaker quickly became a must-have and new brands began popping up all over the world. In 1906, a new brand burst onto the sneaker scene in Boston, Massachusetts which would change the face – or the feet – of the industry. New Balance was founded by Irish immigrant, William J. Riley who wanted to create shoes which offered better balance (see what he did there) through improved arch support. 

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Style and support comes home to roost

As unlikely as it may seem, William J. Riley’s shoe design was inspired by his chickens. It’s said that after he noticed how the chickens would walk with perfect balance on their three toes, he decided to create shoes with a three support point design. Although New Balance shoes were primarily designed for factory workers who would spend hours on their feet, athletes soon began to request their own New Balance shoes and by 1972 New Balance 327 was a major leader in the sneaker world.

These days, under the leadership of CEO Joe Preston, New Balance employs 8000 people around the world and has a net revenue of $5.3 billion. 

New Balance 574 and 327: Revived Classics or Modern Relics?

These days there are countless New Balance styles and colours to choose from and, while some people want the very latest models, others prefer a retro look but, when does retro slide into out of date? In this section, we’re looking at two popular sneakers from the New Balance range – the 574 and the 327. 

The 574

First introduced in 1988, the New Balance 574 was an instant hit with its chunky style and massive N logo on the side. Available in men’s, women’s and unisex styles, the 574 is offered in a range of colours. The shoe features lightweight EVA foam cushioning and is traditionally presented in a suede and mesh upper, however, New Balance has now also introduced a vegan version of this popular sneaker. 

While some people feel that the clunky style has had its day, others celebrate the 574’s retro charm so now we’ll look at some pros and cons:

The Pros

We’ll start with the things that are great about the New Balance 574 and these are: 

  • Classic silhouette – If it’s important to you that your shoes are instantly recognisable as NB classics, you can do no better than the 574 with its iconic silhouette.
  • Affordable – Compared to a lot of other trainers on the market, the NB 574 falls into the reasonable price range. 
  • Real suede – In an age where ‘faux’ is everywhere, the NB 574, rather refreshingly, features real suede for a luxe look. 
  • Durability – the super-chunky sole of the New Balance 574 makes it incredibly hard wearing and durable – meaning that you get more bang for your buck. 
  • Super supportive – Unsurprisingly when thinking about the ethos of New Balance sneakers, these shoes offer unrivalled support making them ideal for sports and running. 
  • Everyday wear – As well as being durable and supportive enough for athletics, the aesthetic of the 574 means that it’s just as at home for a trip to the shops or a walk in the park. 
  • Wide feet – Unlike a lot of sneakers, the New Balance 574 is suitable for those with wide feet. 
  • Colour options – The 574 is available in a wide range of colours for people who like to make a fashion statement with their sneakers. 
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The Cons

So, we’ve listed some pretty impressive pros for the 574 – sounds great, right? Absolutely, however, this shoe might not be for everyone and so, in this section, we’re looking at a few cons: 

  • Breathability – Unfortunately if you’re wearing your 574 during hot weather or doing some pretty full-on sports, you may have to live with sweaty feet as the breathability of these shoes isn’t great – in fact, there are no visible ventilation holes in the design whatsoever. Having said that, this shouldn’t be a significant problem if you’re using your 574s for light / everyday use. 
  • Stiff platform – The 574’s platform is pretty rigid and unforgiving which can make it a little hard on the feet if worn for a significant length of time. 
  • Tongue – The tongue of the shoe tends to shift around a little which may be a minor annoyance but no big deal. 

The 327

So now it’s time to take a look at the New Balance 327 and share a few pros and cons. First introduced in 2020, the shoe’s popularity meant that lots of new colour options were quickly added and it remains a favourite with fans of NB classics.  

The Pros

  • Sporty – These shoes have an undeniably sporty style popular with lots of die-hard classic sneaker fans. 
  • Cushioning – A pretty important one for most sneaker wearers, the 327 offers excellent cushioning for superior comfort. 
  • Lightweight – Unlike some other clunky and heavy sneakers, the 327 has a great lightweight feel making it extremely suitable for sports and athletic activities. 
  • Grippy – Another one for sports fans, New Balance 327s have fantastic grip, making them suitable for most surfaces and terrains. 
  • Breathability – Unlike the 574, the NB 327 excels when it comes to breathability – most likely due to the advance in technology since the introduction of the 574. 
  • Stable platform – The 327’s stable platform makes it comfortable and suitable for driving.
  • Affordable – At around £100 the New Balance 327 offers good value for money. 
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The Cons

There are few negative things to say about the 327 – but we’re going to say them anyway and here they are: 

  • Stiffness – As with big brother the 574, the sole of the 327 tends to be a little rigid and stiff so may not be ideal for long distance or endurance style sports and activities. 
  • Snug – The fit of the 327 is a little tight and is therefore not suitable for those with wide feet. 

The big question

We started this article by asking – New Balance 574 and 327: Revived Classics or Modern Relics – so let’s dive in: 

The 574

We’ve discussed some of the great – and not so great things – about the New Balance 574 but, bottom line: revived classic or modern relic ? 

There’s no doubt that the New Balance 574 still looks pretty cool and, if you’re looking for a sneaker as just a fashion statement, you may have met your match in this enduringly cool shoe. Unfortunately, if you’re after a sneaker to help you amp up your performance on the track this one is best left on the shelf. A lack of breathability and the stiffness of the sole make the 574 less than suitable for sports, no matter how good it might look. 

The conclusion – A revived classic as long as you’re not wearing them to run a marathon. 

The 327

The New Balance 327 gets its good looks from its big brother, the 574, but it’s also a new generation in every sense. Not just a pretty face, the 327 also has great flexibility and stability in its design. This is important as it means that, as well as being a great-looking everyday shoe, it also has the capability and durability to be a really good sneaker for running and sports. 

The conclusion – Very much a revived classic – and one which we think will go on and on and on.  

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