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When it comes to running, New Balance is about as classic as it gets. The Boston-based company has over a century of experience under its belt and — in addition to a strong performance division — continues to thrill sneakerheads and runners with reissues of its most iconic silhouettes. As the lines between performance and lifestyle sneakers continue to blur, we decided to sit down with New Balance’s Jen Lynch for her thoughts on the intersection of fashion and performance, the brand’s rich heritage and the creation of “timeless classics.” Read on for the interview in its entirety and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Can you introduce yourself and your role at New Balance?
My name is Jen Lynch and I’m the Sr. Product Manager for New Balance Lifestyle and Classics.
What are some of your favorite or most well-received projects of the past?
There are so many that I love, but probably the best are the original bring-back styles that are Made in the USA. It’s really wonderful being able to reintroduce a style respecting its original design and materialization 30 years after it first debuted. Knowing the history of these styles and the significance it had on the company makes the project that much more special.
How does New Balance’s rich running innovation translate into lifestyle side and vice-versa?
Working on Classics, it’s interesting to take a look at styles created in the past that were truly innovative for that time and yet timeless. While we certainly recreate and rematerialize styles from the past, the fact that we can draw upon our past and current running innovations to create styles to become Classics in the future is great. At the core of who we are, we are a running company and the fact that technical product can become timeless classics is a great product range to work on.
We’ve seen a huge resurgence of New Balance on the lifestyle tip recently, what would you equate that to?
I think the fact that we make timeless classics that are as relevant today as they were when they were first introduced has enabled the resurgence of New Balance Lifestyle and Classic products. That coupled with the fact that we partner with great collaborators and maintain a high level of craftsmanship further assists the resurgence of New Balance.
“There are so many that I love, but probably the best are the original bring-back styles that are Made in the USA. It’s really wonderful being able to reintroduce a style respecting its original design and materialization 30 years after it first debuted.”
Jen Lynch speaks about his favorite project of the past
Being one of the few footwear brands that have their own respective factories domestically, how does this help with your job?
There is nothing greater than working with your design and development team from the beginning with all of the passion that goes into designing and developing the styles and sharing that passion with the people making the shoes at your factory. When we go to Skowhegan, Maine and meet with the team up there working on a particular style, they are as excited and passionate about that shoe as we are. They have a pride in what they do and feel responsibility for every shoe they make, which translates into a high-quality, crafted shoe.
What are the most exciting trends/developments you see now in running?
Personally I love the new materializations and constructions being done on performance product. I also like the fact that sneakers are no longer for the gym but are a true fashion accessory. The fact that high fashion brands are making sophisticated sneakers that can be worn not just with denim and casual wear is an exciting trend.
How do you perceive the increasingly greater intersection of performance and lifestyle/fashion?
For a long time performance sneakers were meant just for the gym or working out and it was very taboo to wear them casually. Now with the intersection of performance and fashion, you’re seeing really great innovation in terms of material executions, unique color combinations, and a sophistication not really seen before in the market place.
“There is nothing greater than working with your design and development team from the beginning with all of the passion that goes into designing and developing the styles and sharing that passion with the people making the shoes at your factory.”
Jen Lynch speaks about the benefits of having their own factories domestically
How much of the New Balance archive would you say is untapped?
As a company with over 100 years of history, there are so many eras of untapped archival product. I’m really looking forward to more archival product for years to come!
What sort of mark do you want to make on New Balance and the realm of footwear?
These are pretty lofty, but I would love to leave New Balance with the reputation of being able to bring back original product respecting the design and materialization of the original, while being able to turn Classics on their heads so to speak and reinvent what New Balance Classics can mean both from a brand and market standpoint. Also, I would love to build such a strong line of Made in USA Classics that New Balance could open even more factories in the US to continue the strong traditional of footwear craftsmanship that is a rarity these days.
With over a decade spent with New Balance, how would you describe the NB family?
What has been the coolest thing to see change over the last 12 years? I think the best thing about my experience at New Balance and the New Balance family is how cohesive we are and how everyone is truly in it together to make the brand stronger every day. The people that work at New Balance do so because they love the brand, what the brand represents, and the products we make. It truly makes a difference working with a group of people that share a passion for the brand and are truly invested in making the brand better. This focus on brand versus self means that whenever there is help needed someone is always there to help you achieve your goals. Believe me, it matters knowing that you have a team of people who will always support you through your endeavors.
Any last words about the concept of New Balance and the concept of “made in the USA?”
One out of every 4 pairs of shoes we sell in the USA is made or assembled here. Where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes “Made in the USA.”
“As a company with over 100 years of history, there are so many eras of untapped archival product. I’m really looking forward to more archival product for years to come!”
Jen Lynch speaks about how much of the New Balance archive is untapped