The Most Iconic NBS Running Shoe: History of the 990 Series

By: New Balance
Posted on April 30, 2015

Over the course of our century-plus history, many of our sneaker styles have earned a special place in NB lore. Few styles though are more dear to us or better embody our rich brand heritage than the Made in the USA New Balance 990. Representing innovation, technology and craftsmanship, our iconic 990 has been among our most celebrated styles for more than 30 years.

The idea for the 990 was originally born from a challenge issued by New Balance Chairman, Jim Davis, to the design team to create the most innovative running shoe in the industry. Although it spent several years in development, the 990 debuted in 1982 and proved it was well worth the wait.

In 2012, the 990 series celebrated its 30th anniversary, but if its history tells us anything, it's that we can expect many, many more years of the 990.

The 990 was constructed differently than any New Balance shoe before it, featuring a range of new technologies, including a heel motion control device. The revolutionary design of the original 990 gave runners a shoe that provided stability, cushioning and flexibility, all in one shoe.

The 990 was the first athletic shoe to debut at $100 and because of its price point, many doubted its potential in the competitive running market. Initial projected sales were set at 5,000 pairs in the first year, but the 990 silenced doubters as it recorded ten times that projection in just half the time. In six months, orders for the 990 reached 50,000. Since its incredible debut, the 990's momentum never slowed down. To date, well over 10 million pairs have been sold around the world.

Since its debut in 1982, the 990 has been a crucial part of our deep roots in domestic manufacturing. As the only major athletic shoe company that currently manufactures footwear in the U.S., this distinction is yet another reason why the 990 embodies New Balance culture and values so closely.

Shop the 990 Collection.

We are proud to be the only major company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA, which represents a limited portion of our U.S. sales. Where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes Made in the USA.

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