New Balance has emerged as an undeniable force in the past 3 years, seamlessly transitioning from its track-centric roots to dominating the streets. Collaborations with industry giants like Aimé Leon Dore and Joe Freshgoods, alongside partnerships with iconic brands like KITH, have propelled the brand's iconic "N" logo into the forefront of fashion consciousness. What was once dismissed as "ugly dad shoes" has become coveted streetwear essentials, crucially made bigger by the enduring popularity of models like the NB 550 and the 2002R. However, amidst this ongoing success, whispers now circulate about a new silhouette on the horizon, the New Balance 1906R.
The resurgence of retro sneakers has been a defining trend in the ever-evolving landscape of footwear fashion, and currently leading the charge is the iconic New Balance 2002R alongside some of the Asics misfits. Originally reborn and introduced years ago, this classic silhouette was plucked from the archives by the innovative minds at New Balance, who saw its potential as a blank canvas for collaboration. In 2020, the brand opened the floodgates, inviting esteemed collaborators like Salehe Bembury, thisisneverthat, and Invincible to infuse unique visions into the design. These partnerships ignited creativity, with each rendition adding a fresh twist to the beloved silhouette.
Among the most celebrated iterations was the "Protection Pack," dubbed the 2002R "Refined Future," Following in its wake, a slew of other projects emerged, ranging from high-profile collaborations with streetwear giants like BAPE and The Basement to understated yet stylish releases from brands like Auralee. Additionally, the 2002R saw an increase in general release colourways, ensuring that its appeal remained broad and accessible to all.
The Origin
Alright, so picture this: the New Balance 1906R isn't exactly a newbie in the sneaker scene. It's like the OG, the original member of the NB family. Back in 2010, its cousin, the 2002, strutted onto the scene, boasting all the bells and whistles of a luxury running shoe. What's funny is, it rocked the same full-length gel midsole that made the 1906 stand out. Coincidence? Not quite. See, the 1906 was the OG, the blueprint that inspired the 2002 to be what it was. From tip to toe, the sleek shape and breathable mesh of the 1906 seamlessly carried over to its stylish successor, the 2002. So, when you're rocking those 2002s, just remember, they owe their swag to the OG 1906.
With the addition of the "R" to its name denoting its contemporary update, the New Balance 1906R undergoes some subtle yet significant modifications making it some sort of a confusing Frankenstein monster that is actually beautiful. Notably, the ABZORB gel cushioning unit now resides solely beneath the heel, mirroring the design of its cousin/cousin, the 2002R. To enhance performance and support, New Balance incorporates its signature N-ergy and Stability Web technologies into the design. Interestingly, the midsole of the 1906R draws inspiration from the New Balance 860V2, which hit the shelves a year after the debut of the 2002. As a result, wearers can feel the same lightweight feel and plush cushioning that has become associated with the brand.


Adam Jordan Moosa