A Warning for New Balance

The lack of consistency will hurt the brand

Recently, New Balance dropped the Tekela V3. Supposedly an evolution of the Tekela series, it instead seemed to take more cues from the recent adidas Predators rather than the previous generations of the Tekela. While the Furon has taken inspiration from the Mercurial Vapor series, it still seems like a gradual evolution of the silo and even the silhouette has been mostly consistent over the various releases. Given that the big N only has two main silos (the 442 is there but kind of doesn’t seem like it will get updated much), and the fact that the Tekela has been the more popular of the two, NB beginning to chop and change the boot haphazardly harms its chances of having an identity.

New Balance began to seem some decent success with the release of the Tekela series. The V2 model took a lot of what people loved about the original and refined it. The loose and voluminous fit was cut down to make the boot more dynamic feeling. The lacing system was elongated to go further down the foot and the collar was trimmed down in order to hug the ankle better. What made it weird then is to see all of the progress NB made with the series and then seem to throw it out the window with the V3.

Instead of working more on how to make the collar more dynamic the brand slapped on a high collar. They introduced a laceless option that no one was asking for, is more expensive and is now attempting to compete with the adidas Predator, a battle it won’t win. They got rid of the plusher feel that many enjoyed about the Tekela and replaced it with a stiffer upper material which makes the boot more difficult to break in. About the only thing kept from the previous generation is the Kinetic Stitch and that is about the only thing that would let people know the boot is in the same series.

What this means is that people who were fans of the previous two models no have to look elsewhere to find a similar boot and the big issue is, there aren’t a whole lot of boots on the market that are on the Tekela. Aside from upsetting the fans, NB is also trying to compete in a space with one of the most popular boots of the year in the adidas Predator. It seems pretty obvious that it was a conscious decision on the part of NB that they wanted to compete with adidas, but they don’t have the history or the popularity to do so. If they decided to be more coherent with the design language of the newest Tekela then they might have stood a chance. As it is, there is no real reason someone would choose the Tekela over something else.

Combining all of these issues doesn’t paint a positive picture for NB and their lack of keeping a similar design language reminds me of another brand that will probably drop from the market this year: Under Armour. UA has been making football boots since 2009, and at no point have they ever seemed to have truly established themselves in the market. There have been some great ideas to come out of the brand, like their 4D foam insoles, but outside of that, not much has stuck. One of the biggest issues is that UA never seems to have an idea of what they want to accomplish other than just being in the market. You can see this when it comes to their designs. Outside of the Clutchfit series, UA constantly was making new stuff in an attempt to make things stick. This constant chopping and changing only served to make it seem to consumers that they didn’t know what they were doing and had no long-term planning.

So, consider this a sounding of the alarm for New Balance. Find some stability and have some long-term goals because otherwise, they might go the way of Under Armour.

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