From the ground up

Once again New Balance teamed up with 686 for the 4th installment of their ongoing fruitful collaboration, presenting the most advanced and lightest collection to date. Besides a minimalist design, the boots feature a sneaker like fit, avoiding the usual break in period. These come out of the box and fit like like well-worn pair. Further features include RECCO® avalanche monitor, BOA® focus lacing system and a 3-zonal SCL speedlacing system, as well as three colourways to choose from.

Michael Akira West, president and creative director at 686®, and Michael Bretz, NB686 lead boot designer, provide some additional info about the boot below:

What’s new with the NB686 Collection for Winter 2012-2013?
Mike: The biggest adjustment we made for the fourth season is to offer a more performance story, which better reflects what New Balance is all about, as well as what’s happening in snowboarding. Lightweight, low profile, and less is more are the main points we wanted to get across. The most successful storythat New Balance® currently has is their Minimus Collection, which is inspired from barefoot running. We worked with their mad scientists in Boston and utilized a similar story in shredding.

Michael B: We got a chance to work with the New Balance® product development team that works on all the running and performance styles and their sports lab. I was even able to loot their materials library and got a lot of ideas for materials, fit, and construction.

What’s your design approach to the special project?
Mike: In the past, we worked with the New Balance® lifestyle group to do throwback vintage pieces and made it applicable for snowboarding. We made a shift to their performance and running group where they’re more into technologies that really enhance the user experience instead of just look good. From there, we came in and brought our textile background and worked with our team of testers and riders to make it legit in our world.

Michael B: We took some extra time to develop the ‘12-‘13 boots. We started developing custom materials first and once we had those created, we designed the new models specifically with the properties of those materials in mind. I wanted to transfer the great fit that New Balance® is known for to snowboard boots, so the approach for this season was to work inside out.

How are riders responding to the new collection?
Mike: Insane! They love the out of the box feeling, the new low pro liners and overall steeze factor.

Michael B: It’s really hard to do serious development work with them right now. They simply refuse to hand back their test boots after riding which I guess is a good sign…


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