In late June, we followed an invitation by New Balance and took a trip to the UK for the introduction of the New Balance 247v2. At the “Twelfth Man” pub next to the exceptional site of Liverpool F.C.’s time-honored Anfield stadium, we also had the chance for a sit-down with one of the shoe’s designers, Joseph Walsh. Read on to find out more about the motivations for updating the shoe and the significance of the newly released “Tritium Pack”.
Hi Joseph, thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview with us. Let’s hear a little more about your works for a start. How long have you been with New Balance?
I joined New Balance in 2013, so almost five-and-a-half years ago now. I’m a footwear designer working on lifestyle products. In that time I’ve basically learned the ropes at New Balance, because I came into it pretty junior.
What did you do before getting into footwear design?
My previous experience was graphic design with a little bit doing graphics for apparel. So when I joined as a footwear designer I first learned how footwear works, about materials and blueprints.
Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on this far?
The 247 V1 was something I worked on. We did a deconstructed, mid-top winterized version and summer version. This lead up to the New Balance 247v2 as a kind of evolution of the original V1.
Speaking of that evolution: The V1 only came out in 2017, so not that long ago at all. Why did you guys decide to already re-work the silhouette one year after its introduction?
I guess because the market moves so fast now. I think people almost demand it. But then at the same time as a designer, I think that once something is done… You see, the 247v1 was done almost 18 months before it even hit the market and in that time you see something that you might want to change. You already have ideas, what you would like to change and how to improve it. So this area of the market moves very fast, while as a designer you are thinking about what could be improved.
Well, if you moved at this pace with the 990, we would have now arrived at a V1000…
I think this kind of hybrid style moves quicker than the classics. Like, the 574 is still the 574. This type of shoe evolves quicker, maybe.
Did you also think about this kind of longevity when it came to altering the New Balance 247v2? Can you fill us in on your general approach to the new design?
The most important thing is that it still looks like a New Balance shoe. It still has a familiar feel. I think most consumers will look at that and identify it as a New Balance shoe. The most important thing is to identify with the history of the brand, but then to challenge it as well. It’s clearly a new shoe but just as clearly has references to the past.
What are the most signifcant changes on the V2?
The “Tritium Pack” has the primary colors in the heel area, where the shape actually evolved from the V1. And since it had the shape, we did the color blocking in that distinct way as an evolution of the V1. Going into the upper, I felt like the proportions going around color in the V1 could be improved. So we moved that up a little bit because the shoe is more distinct, more hybrid and more technical. And the almost square saddle is something like a 247 trademark by now, I guess. That’s a familiar point the consumer will see from V1 to V2. So the V2 still has the lay-up in terms of the saddle and the foxing of a classic.
You already mentioned the “Tritium Pack”, which features seven colorways of the New Balance 247v2. How do the colors complement the design updates?
You’ve obviously seen the classic gray version that was very New Balance heritage-inspired. This pack plays more on the versatility of the shoe. It’s the same shoe but highly different with engineered mesh. It’s more technical, so the colors are very sports-style. It may not be something you’ve seen from us before but it’s very much relevant today. The name of the pack references a chemical element that glows on its own, which is also different from that heritage style and something more tech.
So in the future, we will see the silhouette changing and evolving as a fast pace?
Yes, I think so.
Thanks for the interview and these insights, Joseph.
Read more about the New Balance 247v2 in our July 2018 issue of Sneakers Magazine – available now!