By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

October 10, 2023 | 3 min read

The shoe brand’s iconic 991 are now ‘Made in the England’, but in this ad, they journey to Milan into the hands of master chef and superfan Massimo Bottura.

New Balance is introducing the first in its 99x series to be designed and built out of its UK factory. The latest version of the 991v2 updates the signature design that was a spontaneous hit in Italy in the early 2000s.

Back then, consumers in the North of Milan started wearing the 991v1 for style rather than running, and the trend traveled east to cities like Florence and Bologna where enthusiasts like Massimo Bottura, the world-renowned Michelin Star chef and owner of over 100 pairs of New Balance. He would pair the shoes with premium suits.

The strong culture of shoemaking in Italy helped make the 991v1 resonate there in particular, with the quality and what ‘Made’ stood for striking a chord with local consumers. The brand’s Flimby factory continues to deliver some of New Balance’s most loved models and is home to long-serving factory associates, with generations of families working on the production line.

Through a nostalgic lens, a new campaign film follows a pair of boxed 991v2s from the factory on a car journey into Milan, paying homage to the 991’s Italian connection. The film features a cameo from musician Loyle Carner and a few other close friends of New Balance. The boxed pair ends up with its new owner – Bottura.

Sam Pearce, New Balance’s creative design manager for Made in UK, explains: “Few shoes have had a cultural influence like the 991 in Europe, from brand purists to our industry partners this model has remained the pinnacle style across the region since its release in 2001. Now, over 20 years later, with the model arguably at its strongest we felt it was time to take on the challenge of an update.

“Evolution not Revolution” was the first thing I wrote down when imagining this brief, much like updating an established car line the 99X series demands a similar methodical approach. It is important to remain sympathetic to the design, whilst identifying which features to refresh. It’s a game of balance in most respects, threading that needle between new and familiar so not to lose sight of that iconic DNA.

The 991v2 embodies innovation meeting tradition, bringing all those defining elements together to create a future classic.”

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