Model: 550 "Ecru Grey"
Release Date: December 25 (original release December 3)
Buy: Online at United Arrows
Editor's Notes: With the year's end just days away (where it went, I don't know), the debate is rife concerning the best and worst sneakers and collaborations of the year.
New Balance's efforts this year have drawn particular praise, as it delivered one of the strongest string of collaborations that the sneaker industry had or has had to offer in a long time.
There were plenty of 990x options, ranging from Todd Snyder to Stray Rats and Aimé Leon Dore; Casablanca made the 327 a popular choice, and the 2002R (which took the top spot in our Footwear Editor, Fabian Gorsler's Best of 2021 list) stole the spotlight on several occasions.
There's no denying the crazy popularity of the 550 this year, which served as somewhat of a counter-balance to Nike's Dunk Low mania.
Even though the 550 was perfected through general releases, ALD and AURALEE delivered some of New Balance's strongest colorways of the year via the silhouette.
At first glance, the colorway isn't too dissimilar from AURALEE's version; both feature a muted, fabrication-focused construction, yet United Arrows' take feels more premium.
This can be attested to the "Ecru Grey" suede that fills the upper, subtly contrasted by touches of white and grey for a finish that says a lot without doing a lot.
Calling these the best 550 of 2021 may be a stretch, but they're definitely worth including in the conversation.
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