Aimé Leon Dore's New Balance sneaker collaborations are typically such a hot commodity that they fly off shelves — digital and physical — within mere moments of the drop. But the release date for ALD's latest New Balance shoes has come and gone and not a single shoe is sold out, for the first time in years. What happened?

Well, most likely, the lack of awareness comes from a lack of marketing. There was virtually no announcement that Aimé Leon Dore was dropping a New Balance 996 collab and, yet, there they sit on the ALD web store, two pristine monochrome colorways made of tasteful textured leather.

They're good-looking shoes too, frankly some of the best that ALD and New Balance have cooked up in some time. The minor weight of the 996 is quite well-balanced by the neutral uppers, each identically split by handsome beige heel panels.

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Plus, compared to the ubiquitous 550 shoes, ALD's New Balance 996 is a bit more refined, urbane, advanced even.

So I don't doubt that the American-made 996 sneakers, priced fairly reasonably at $210 a pop, would've sold just as fast as any prior Aimé Leon Dore New Balance joint, save for the simple fact that no one knew that ALD was dishing these tastefully understated runners in early December.

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The only suggestion that there was even an ALD NB 996 shoe in the works came from a magazine editorial uploaded to ALD's Instagram page on November 24, mere days before the collaborative shoe's quiet release.

No one's talking about these things, save for a couple of the obvious sneaker-obsessed outlets, which deliver announcements of shoe releases with all the pomp and circumstance of a world-weary waiter reciting the day's specials

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I'm torn because, on one hand, I fully respect that Aimé Leon Dore didn't seek to make a splashy announcement for its latest New Balance team-up, which it very easily could've. This makes them a nice treat to fans who check its website and flagship stores.

On the other hand, these are the kind of sublime shoes that deserve the red carpet treatment, a welcome reprieve from same-y sneaker team-ups that so often result from long-term footwear partnerships.

No matter how you slice it, though, good news for the many fans of ALD's New Balance collabs: this is one drop you can shop at your leisure, without having to wait until 2024.

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