Anyone following the twists and turns of sneaker culture knows the New Balance 990 has become the quintessential dad shoe in the wake of normcore's 15 minutes of fame. What most people don’t know, however, is that the Bostonian brand has another silhouette in its archive that out-dads the 990 by a long shot, the 2040v1.
While you can still find some versions of the 2040 at retailers such as Footlocker and Amazon, the silhouette is neither available nor advertised on New Balance’s webstore and hasn't been highlighted through collaborations and exclusive colorways like the 990 has been in recent years. Even imagery is scarce on the web, but you can take a closer look at the 2040v1 here.
Like the 990, the original 2040 has been updated over the years. Currently on its third version, each 2040 update has brought with it slight design changes. While the 2040v1 is most in line with our expectations of a techy older brother to the 990, the 2040v2 and 2040v3 took on a more formal look, losing some of the panels on the upper in favor of a more traditional toe and shape.
New Balance senior product manager Eric Vassall, who led the 2040's creation, explains that the design represents the “intersection of high-end lifestyle with athletic sophistication, where technology conveys value.” Of the shoe's actual construction, Vassall says, “It was a chance to showcase our American-made craftsmanship with a modern aethestic, portrayed through simplicity without sacrificing fine details,” adding, “We looked at how we could elevate the sneaker through design, premium materials, and craftsmanship, as well as with our great fit, comfort, and performance.”
The 2040v1 retailed for around $300, which may have seemed ridiculous when the shoe was released years ago, but that doesn't stand out as too expensive in the current sneaker climate, especially for a made-in-USA product.
On the subject of the 2040’s retail price, Vassall says, “The 2040 continued the legacy of American-made craftsmanship developed by its predecessor, the 2000 series. The shoe offered the ultimate in performance, comfort, and fit for the most sophisticated connoisseur. It was created with premium touches at every point.”
Unlike most other brands, New Balance generally classifies its running models numerically rather than with names. As the brand explains, "The model or style number is a naming system for our shoes. While most of our higher-numbered styles feature more technology than our lower-numbered shoes, that is not always the case." But the 40 in 2040 also denotes optimal control: "Supported by medical and podiatric experts, shoes in this category provide maximum control, stability, cushioning, and support for biomechanical needs, such as pronation or low arches." So that's more tech, more support, and more comfort in the 2040.
When asked whether there are plans to bring the 2040 back, Vassall offers us a hint for the medium term: “We're looking to bring a new exciting version, planned for quarter one of 2020.”
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