I have a confession to make: for the longest time, I’m more of an adidas and Nike guy when it comes to sneakers. I rarely buy sneakers from other brands like Asics and Vans, but I still add them to my rotation as being a sneakerhead also means you have equal treatment of all brands. That brings us to my recent love for New Balance, particularly the 2002R.

After finally getting a pair in Malaysia in this clean off-white and grey colorway, I share my thoughts on owning a pair, the hype for the brand, and how New Balance sets the standards for a quality pair of sneakers.

Retro styling is definitely in

It’s funny how New Balance is getting noticed only recently when Steve Jobs, one of the most iconic leaders, always wears a pair of grey 992s every time he makes a major presentation–introducing the latest and greatest Apple products on an annual basis.

Since the onset of the 2020s, there has been a sudden boom for New Balance sneakers. What initially started as collabs with Aime Leon Dore in the 550s became the catalyst to make New Balance the It brand right now–even rivaling Nike and adidas with some of their models. As it has risen in popularity, this brought interest in a number of their silhouettes like the 990s, and also gave New Balance a chance to introduce new models to the public with the likes of the RC30, 327, and the very avantgarde Vision Racer. Heck, the hype for New Balance even led us to the discovery of Cebuano skateboarder Margie Didal‘s signature NM379 Numeric pair.

Aside from being the epitome of dad sneakers–which is the current trend right now, the simple styling of most (if not all) New Balance sneakers proves to be a great formula, especially for the fashion conscious. Most of their popular models don’t don loud colors, which makes them very easy to style with any outfit.

The 2002R I got even has a catchphrase on one of the insoles saying “The Intelligent Choice”–and I’m not surprised at New Balance with their full confidence in that statement. One thing I like about New Balance sneakers is how they sneak in details like this no matter how simple the colorway can be.

Just the good quality we all deserve

One of my chief complaints (I bet other sneakerheads see this too) about Nike and Jordan sneakers is that their quality control is not as consistent. We’ve talked countless times about how not all Dunks are made equal–the much-hyped Panda Dunk Lows don’t have great overall quality as compared to other GR Dunks, and it is brands like New Balance that bring us faith in sneakers.

Regardless if you are going for the collabs, the very expensive Made in USA or UK, or simply settle for GR pairs, New Balance has set the standard for me on what to expect in a premium sneaker. I paid roughly Php 8k for the 2002R I got in Malaysia, and the materials used are really good: you get suede and pigskin leather that beats the materials used on your average pair of Jordans, and you can see how consistent is the craftsmanship despite my GR pair being made in Vietnam.

What most of my friends said about New Balance’s quality control is true: you definitely get what you pay for. Given that this made-in-Vietnam pair has really good quality, one could simply imagine how good the craftmanship on the more expensive Made in USA or UK pair–even if they would cost upwards of Php 10k (the last Made in UK pair I saw was selling for a whopping Php 13k), these pairs are really meant to last for years of use.

Comfort is simply top-notch

Another thing I’ve been hearing about New Balance’s lifestyle running sneakers is how ridiculously comfortable they are. While I was drawn to the New Balance 2002R because of its very retro, 2000s-inspired design, the N-Ergy midsole used was a really comfortable experience.

Even if it is not as cutting edge as the likes of Boost, the 2002R proved to be very comfy, especially while I was walking around Malaysia. I’ve logged roughly 20000 steps with the 2002R, and I’m quite amazed at how crazy comfortable they are–not giving me any foot fatigues as I brisk walk under the scorching Malaysian heat.

Despite that, the sneakers still look new, with minimal creasing on the upper and midsoles and practically no wear on the outsoles. In fact, the photos you see in this article are shot upon arriving in Manila after my trip in Malaysia–and after using them during the trip.

A few days after wearing them extensively, I finally understood the hype for New Balance lifestyle running sneakers like the 2002R. These underrated sneakers deserve the attention they are receiving now, and regardless if you want the general release models, the collabs, or the hype pairs like the “Protection Pack”–New Balance sneakers are a fresh sight in the sneakerhead community, proving that chunky dad shoes can also be cool.

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