The original New Balance 574 was created in 1988 by combining two different New Balance sneakers and it's not only stood the test of time, it's cemented itself into sneaker culture. Amongst sneakerheads, it’s become renowned for its comfort, durability and versatility, and might be the brand's most recognizable model.
The New Balance 574 Sport rejuvenates the iconic sneaker with some significant new features and brand technology that bring it into the twenty-first century. Most notably, Fresh Foam cushioning significantly reduces the weight and improves comfort to further legitimize the 574 as a sneaker that marries lifestyle and performance.
Canadian retailer Little Burgundy will be adding the 574 Sport to its carefully curated collection and we recently got the opportunity to speak to its Men’s Footwear Buyer to get his thoughts on the original 574, the 574 Sport and sneaker culture.
With his ear to the street and his eye finely tuned to ongoing and approaching sneaker trends, Olivier Barriault is a trusted voice on the culture, community and market.
For those who’re unfamiliar, explain Little Burgundy.
Little Burgundy is a Canadian footwear and accessories retailer that was founded in Montreal, Quebec. The name Little Burgundy comes from a neighborhood in the city of Montreal. We’ve been around for 10 years now. What makes us unique is the way we curate collections, as well as our shopping environment. We always look for new ways to evolve and stand out from the competition. Right now, we are working on ways to be more implicated socially and environmentally.
Tell us what you do at Little Burgundy.
I’m the men’s footwear buyer. The exciting part of my job is always being a year in advanced looking for new products, brands and trends. But what excites me the most is managing the business and finding ways to innovate and bring new ideas to the buying division.
What drew you to footwear buying?
I was always into shoes. I’ve always been fascinated by great products. I consider myself a product enthusiast. After graduating from business school, I wanted to find a way to mix this passion with my work. Luckily enough, I was able to surround myself with mentors and shoedogs for the past eight years. These guys were streetwear nerds and sneaker lovers. They really inspired me into becoming a footwear buyer.
At Little Burgundy, what’s most likely to get you excited about a new footwear model?
Most of the footwear companies have similar looking products on the market due to the fact that footwear designers are usually on contracts and move from one footwear company to the next. What excites me the most is when brands come up with new ideas, new technologies and new designs.
New Balance is such a ubiquitous brand, why is it so important to the sneaker community?
New Balance is definitely an important brand for the sneaker community. But it’s also an important brand in the footwear industry. It’s a 100 year old footwear company with an interesting historical background. Whenever you think about New Balance, you think of comfort and quality. They also offer a wide range of silhouettes. What I admire the most about the brand is that they produce in the United States and the United Kingdom. Not a lot of footwear brands deal or own factories outside of Asia.
What does the original New Balance 574 mean to you and how has it become such a classic silhouette?
The 574 is an iconic silhouette. It has so much history. I like a shoe that you can wear on a daily basis. That’s what the 574 is all about. I can’t wait to see what New Balance comes up with next year for the silhouette.
What stood out for you when you first saw the new 574 Sport?
The 574 Sport has a versatile and sleek look. What really stood out was the diamond pattern fresh foam technology on the outsole which I like.
At closer inspection, what are your favorite features? Have you had a chance to try them on?
Comfort mostly. The mix between the synthetic bootie construction and the fresh foam outsole makes the shoe extremely comfortable. I was lucky enough to get a pair. I’ve been wearing them the past few days. They will be in my weekly rotation this fall.
Ronnie Fieg has already announced a 574 Sport collaboration he’s worked on. Who else would you like to see the brand collaborate with on this sneaker?
Ronnie is definitely the king of collaborations. He did a great job on his latest 574 Sport release. Concepts always have the best New Balance collaborations in my opinion. I would also like to see collaborations with Japanese institutions such as Atmos and Mita Sneakers.
Social media has had a massive impact on the sneaker community and culture, how do you see it continuing to change and grow?
Social media is the main reason the sneaker community has become such a huge market, and it will only get bigger. I believe the sneaker culture has changed. Back then, you had to travel to different cities to find a shoe. It was thrilling. Sneaker fanatics were not only interested in the product, but also by the story or the meaning of the brand. People are more into a certain look or trend now. I hope brands and curators will be able to bring back the culture to where it was.
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