Fashion / Partnership

New Balance updates an iconic model with a 'la dolce vita' spirit: Inspired by Italy, made in UK

By Linnéa Pesonen

As part of its coveted 'Made in UK' collection, New Balance has unveiled an updated design of one of its most iconic shoes – which sit at the heart of the brand's retro Italian love affair

The Scandinavian fashion set’s favourite sneaker brand, New Balance, has officially revamped its legendary 991 model – a steadfast staple amongst supermodels and celebrities alike. Dubbed 991v2, the shoe marks a significant milestone for the label as it is the very first inline update to the 991 silhouette conceived over two decades ago. It also marks a pivotal moment as the model is the first of the 99X series to be designed and produced in the UK, forming part of New Balance's sought-after 'Made in UK' line known for its quality and craftsmanship.

Unbeknownst to many, the initial popularity of the New Balance 991 can be traced back to northern Milan, where the fashion-forward crowd paired their 991s with designer suits in the early '00s. The polished aesthetic of the shoe made it a perfect match to the tailoring in the Italians' wardrobes, and the 991 craze soon spread from Milan to Florence and Bologna. Having cemented its status as the it-shoe amongst style mavens, the 991 even became the top shoe count at the acclaimed biannual menswear trade shoe, Pitti Uomo.

“Few shoes have had a cultural influence like the 991 in Europe, from brand purists to our industry partners this model has remained the pinnacle style across the region since its release in 2001,” says Sam Pearce, New Balance Creative Design Manager for 'Made in UK'. “Now, with the model arguably at its strongest we felt it was time to take on the challenge of an update.”

Photo: New Balance

The new 991v2 model.

Photo: New Balance

The 991v2 boasts a sleek look that fuses tradition with innovation, representing an evolution of the initial model whilst staying true to the original design. With the signature suede details and slight changes to the upper panelling, the most notable difference is the full-length FuelCell cushioning, a high-energy foam designed to withstand high-impact forces. And – for the first time – the tongue of the sneaker reads 'Made in England' – in a subtle nod to the 991's status as a signature 'Made in UK' model.

Few shoes have had a cultural influence like the 991 in Europe.

Sam Pearce, New Balance Creative Design Manager for Made in UK

A timeless colourway of pale grey punctuated by pops or muted teal presents endless styling options. “It is important to remain sympathetic to the design, whilst identifying which features to refresh,” says Pearce. “It’s a game of balance in most respects, threading the needle between new and familiar to not lose sight of that iconic DNA.”

Photo: New Balance

Italian restaurateur and Michelen chef Massimo Bottura wears the New Balance 991v2 model. Photo: New Balance

Paying tribute to 991’s Italian love affair and celebrating the launch of the updated model, New Balance releases a campaign film featuring the brand’s famed friends, such as British musician Loyle Carner and renowned Italian Michelin Star chef Massimo Bottura. With an air of nostalgia and romance, the film sees a pair of boxed 991v2s make their way by car from the sleepy English town of Flimby, where they are manufactured, to the bustling streets of Milan. The shoes’ final destination is with their new owner, Bottura, a self-described 991 enthusiast with over 100 pairs of New Balance.

As Pearce says, “a future classic” has been born.

The grey 991v2 will be available globally from the 27th of October at