Junya Watanabe’s New Balance 574s Are Brown, Boring & Beautiful


Junya Watanabe is collaborating with New Balance again. Wait! Don’t reach for the snooze button. These shoes are boring, yes, but they’re also quite beautiful, arguably the COMME des GARÇONS designer’s finest NB sneakers to date.

I do like to joke about boring shoes. We live in a time where sneaker collabs drop every week in between a handful of slightly different colorways and retro silhouettes, so you tend to get a bunch of shoes that are pretty, uh, safe, to put it politely.

But, sometimes, that’s okay; a nice colorway is usually enough for a pass, IMO. All I ask for is a good-looking shoe at the end of the day and, in this case, I really gotta give it to Watanabe for cooking up three handsome 574s.

The 574 is one of New Balance’s most basic models — unless it has a platform sole, perhaps — but Watanabe usually prefers it to the fancier stuff.

He already dropped a pair earlier this year, in fact, though it pales in comparison to these new models.

Watanabe gave three New Balance 574s a lush treatment in time for autumn, imagining each in water-resistant nubuck ideal for transitional weather. It doesn’t hurt that the textile also makes them that much more plush.

Expect to pay ¥33,000 ($220) per pair when they drop in Japan on October 21, though a Western release will inevitably follow.

Need a reminder of what Watanabe normally does with New Balance? Look no further than his Spring/Summer 2023 menswear collection, a mélange of pop art, workwear, and extremely normal-looking retro runners.

The sole exception (no pun intended) is the nifty New Balance Niobium mule he dropped earlier this month.

It’s all decent enough but “safe” doesn’t even begin to describe Watanabe’s New Balance lineup.

But if he keeps coming up with colorways as good as the ones that dress these 574s, I’m willing to look past the slightly stale silhouette.

Watanabe has been coming correct recently, actually with some reasonably nifty stuff that walks that fine line between boring and rousing.



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