Why Are New Balance Shoes So Expensive? (Facts)

While most affordable sneakers cost less than $80, several New Balance shoes can cost upward of $150. So why are New Balance shoes so expensive?

Some New Balance shoes can be expensive because they are made in the USA, while most brands manufacture their shoes in Asia where the labor is cheaper. Additionally, American-made New Balance shoes use premium materials.

However, not all New Balance shoes are expensive. Stick around to find out why New Balance shoes are expensive and explore their most affordable options.

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3 Reasons Why New Balance Shoes Are So Expensive

New Balance is a sports and athletic brand that is popular around the world, so it’s easy to understand that some of their shoes are expensive.

It’s important to note, however, that not all New Balance shoes are expensive. Only select New Balance models are pricey. Here’s why:

1. New Balance shoes are made in America

There is a reason why that pair of New Balance 990v5 you see online or at the store costs more than $150. It is simply because it is made in America.

While not all of their shoes are made in the USA, some of their signature products are manufactured and assembled in America, including the sourcing of materials.

In fact, New Balance is proud to be the only major company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA, employing American workers at five facilities in Maine and Massachusetts.

While other brands choose to make their shoes in Asia, where the labor is cheaper, New Balance decides to produce high-quality shoes with expert craftsmanship by American labor. 

And for that, you are going to pay more — it’s as simple as that.

2. Endorsed by popular athletes

Initially, New Balance adopted an “Endorsed by No One” philosophy in the late 1980s.

They prefer to invest in research, design, and domestic manufacturing rather than paying celebrities and popular athletes to wear their products.

However, in 2009, New Balance decided to break with tradition and start allowing professional athletes to endorse the brand, including baseball players Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson, and NBA player Matt Bonner.

NBA champion and superstar endorses New Balance.
Steve Jobs wearing New Balance.

This is one of the reasons why the New Balance brand grew in popularity worldwide.

Then, in 2012, New Balance created a unique shoe for President Barack Obama ahead of the US Presidential Election. Before his 2012 re-election campaign, the 990 ‘Made In USA’ shoes were specially made to demonstrate the importance of local industries in America.

Today, New Balance is endorsed by many popular athletes and sport superstars including NBA star Kawhi Leonard, American hurdler and sprinter Sydney McLaughlin, and the youngest Wimbledon qualifier ever, Coco Gauff.

3. Selection of shoe widths

While not everyone is an athlete, most people will walk and run casually.

However, some people may have wide feet. Casual trainers and sneakers from cheaper brands only come in standardized sizes, making them terrible for wide feet.

New Balance, on the other hand, has a selection of shoe widths to accommodate people with wide feet. They are proud to offer one of the largest selections of shoes in extended widths, from X-Narrow to XX-Wide, including:

  • X-Narrow
  • Narrow
  • Standard
  • Wide
  • X-Wide
  • XX-Wide

If you are not sure if you’re wearing the right width, you can stop by your local New Balance store to get fitted by one of their experts. After all, having the right fit is essential for comfort.

Their large selection of shoe widths make New Balance one of a kind, and for that, you should expect to pay more than the standard pair of sneakers.

Why Are New Balance 990 So Expensive?

One of the most popular New Balance shoes that is considered expensive is the New Balance 990. Currently, the fifth version of the 990 is available for purchase.

The tagline for the New Balance 990v5 — ”Worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio” — is very catchy. But if it’s a dad shoe, why is the New Balance 990 so expensive?

The New Balance 990v5 is expensive because the shoe’s manufacturing process, from the sourcing of materials to the assembly, is made in the USA.

Not only are the stitching very intricate, but the quality of materials is second to none. One example is the suede material. After gently rubbing your finger across the suede, you can see it slowly change color. That is the sign of a high-quality suede.

In fact, two popular New Balance dad shoes, the 990 and 993, are well-praised because of their comfort and durability. So not only are they more cushioned, but they last 2 to 3 times longer than the average New Balance shoes (which are made in Asia).

In our opinion, paying more than $100 but less than $200 for a pair of New Balance shoes that will last for several years is well worth the price.

Affordable New Balance Shoes

Contrary to popular belief, not all New Balance shoes are expensive.

In fact, Grailed Branding Director and former Four Pins editor Lawrence Schlossman said that most people would look at a New Balance 990 as a more affordable version of insanely expensive dad shoes from Balenciaga, Raf Simons, and the Yeezy Waverunner.

“New Balances are still expensive, but there’s a lower barrier of entry to this (dad shoe wave). You know it’s going to be comfortable, and it’s going to be comfortable and not from some brand that you’re unfamiliar with.”

LAWRENCE SCHLOSSMAN,
Grailed Branding Director and former Four Pins editor

Sure, some New Balance shoes can cost more than $150, but most of their sneakers are well below $100. Here are some of the most affordable New Balance shoes:

New Balance 574 (buy on Amazon)

  • ENCAP midsole
  • Popular and iconic

New Balance 515 (buy on Amazon)

  • Fresh Foam midsole
  • Lightweight

New Balance 373 (buy on Amazon)

  • EVA foam midsole
  • Very affordable

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Bottom Line

And there you have it, the complete answer to the question: why are New Balance shoes so expensive? At the end of the day, you are paying more for the high quality and expert craftsmanship offered by one of the best athletic brands in the world.