junya-watanabe-new-balance-574-ss22-collab (3)
New Balance

Nothing to see here, folks, just an incredibly simple set of collaborative New Balance 574 shoes from COMME des GARÇONS designer Junya Watanabe, just the way he likes 'em.

Specifically, Watanabe prefers his New Balance team-ups to be as plain as can be, as evidenced from past AM574 and 990 collabs.

Even Watanabe's collaborative New Balance 480 — the spiritual forebear to the incredibly hot NB 550 — was basic black and white leather.

But I like that Watanabe's NB team-ups are almost shockingly simple. The Japanese designer almost never designs "exciting" footwear (Does anyone else remember his normal AF Nike Waffle Racers?) because that's not his schtick.

Junya Watanabe MAN, the designer's menswear label (obviously), is steeped in heritage, not trend, just like COMME des GARÇONS HOMME, which Watanabe also oversees. MAN specializes in revamped workwear like chore coats and selvedge denim jeans, with an emphasis on wearability.

Watanabe's Spring/Summer 2022 collection is a little more adventurous than usual so it's kinda fitting that his seasonal collaborations have been especially normal, from GORE-TEX TNF jackets to gilded aviator shades.

Doubly fitting that Watanabe elected to take on one of New Balance's most conventional sneaker silhouettes. Heck, if you can't tell the difference between a normal 574 and Watanabe's 574 Legacy collection, that ain't on you.

These shoes are intended to be a throwback to the OG 574 shape, which is a little chunkier than the slightly sleeker contemporary version (though less beefy than Salehe Bembury's take on the shoe).

The real distinction is in the details: his 574s sport premium pig suede on the uppers and "EYE" text on the heels to denote that they're part of EYE Junya Watanabe MAN, Watanabe's collaborative menswear line.

That's it. And maybe that's enough.

Watanabe's latest New Balances drop in Japan on April 22 for ¥28,600 (about $220) apiece; expect an international release to soon follow via Junya Watanabe stockists like SSENSE and Dover Street Market.

And if you enjoy perfectly plain New Balances, great news! There are a load of other relatively simple shapes on the horizon, including Dover Street Market's 991, Joe Freshgood's 550, and Aimé Leon Dore's 650 collab.

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