New Balance 327: Inspired by '70s Classics

An interview with the design team behind the New Balance 327.

Presented by New Balance
Footwear 
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The New Balance 327 has garnered an enormous amount of attention since being revealed earlier this year as part of a Casablanca collaboration. Aside from this first showstopping release, the Boston-based brand continued to drop exciting new colorways of the silhouette throughout this year, merging New Balance archive pieces from the ’70s, vibrant colors mixed with muted tones and a super-sized ‘N’ logo sitting atop the upper.

The design team responsible for this well-received sneaker newcomer hail from Manchester, UK. We spoke to the designers on New Balance’s team to give our readers a better insight into what design processes and sources of inspiration helped create the runner’s contemporary look. Scroll down to read the interview below.

HYPEBEAST: Where did the inspiration for the 327 come from? 

New Balance’s Design Team: The 327 is inspired by retro running sneakers from New Balance in the 1970s. We started looking at our archive to get in the same mindset as the brand’s designers back then would have. Using materials and constructions available at the time and pairing those details with a contemporary aesthetic pushed it away from what had already existed.  

Did you know you wanted to revisit a ’70s silhouette? Was this a summer trend you wanted to tap into or something which came about more organically?

The plan was to create a new model that was recognisable as a New Balance shoe but had an unexpected visual. This led us to explore the iconic N logo at its origins. The N logo was introduced in 1976 on the 320 model, branding that quickly became an icon in its own right and made the ’70s a pivotal decade for the brand. 

When looking through archive styles, do you go in with an idea in mind or are you looking to see what catches your eye?

Our aim was to be inspired by the past but in a completely different way than we have done before. New Balance has such an extensive archive. We knew we had a wealth of iconic models to be inspired by. Whilst searching we were looking for both details that were iconic to the brand, and ones that were lesser-known and a little more offbeat. Combining these elements shifted the aesthetic, different from what was typically expected from New Balance.

Could you tell us about the process of landing the design, from inspiration to building mood boards to finalising a new product?

After collating my references from the archive we worked with the aesthetic and proportions to give the model the fresh look. We built moodboards to refer back to during the entire product creation process. These boards inspired everything 327; from sketches on a post-it note to creating the launch season colorways.  It is important to us that we tell a story through the product. We spent a lot of time getting the model to sit firmly between the worlds of old and new. 

The oversized ‘N’ and studded sole are two features that really stand out on the 327. Are these features that were influenced by heritage models?

We focused on three design elements from the archive; the fang toe shape, the outsole, and of course, the N logo. The toe shape is an extended version of the 320 tip design which was originally designed to evoke speed. To us, it was so offbeat and unusual that we had to include it.  The circular lugs on the outsole were directly inspired by the trail 355; we paired this with an asymmetric sculpted midsole to represent the use of shaped EVA on our running product. Lastly, scaling up the N was our way of celebrating the origins of the logo.

The colorways released so far have been a lot of fun. Was the color palette a reflection of ’70s trends? Should we expect more bright colorways in upcoming drops?

Although New Balance is known for its grey, there’s a vast amount of color in our back catalog. This is especially the case in the 1970s. One of the launch colorways (MS327LAA) is a direct 50/50 mash-up of the OG Orange Supercomp and Blue Trail 355. Seeing so much color in the archive definitely influenced the way in which color was used on the 327.

Are there any current or upcoming sneaker trends that you are finding particularly exciting at the moment? 

Chunky sneaker aesthetic with multiple panel layering has dominated footwear trends for the last couple of years. As we look to what’s next there is a desire to create sneakers that have a contrasting visual. The minimalist ’70s sneaker look has reset and refreshed the sneaker industry and there’s plenty more to come from New Balance in that area. 

Shop the New Balance 327 range now on New Balance’s website.

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