The New Balance Arch Support Company was founded in 1906, rooted in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Founded by William J. Riley, a 33-year old British immigrant, the company manufactured arch supports and other accessories designed to improve shoe fit.
The first product to hit shelves was a flexible arch support with three support points for greater balance and comfort. Riley demonstrated the way these arch supports worked by allegedly keeping a chicken’s foot on his desk, explaining to customers that the chicken’s three-clawed foot resulted in perfect balance.
New Balance continued to sell mainly arch supports until 1960. It was then that the Trackster, the world’s first running shoe with a ripple sole and varying widths, was designed and manufactured.
The Boston area became a center for the running boom of the 1970s, thanks in part to New Balance running shoes and accessories. In 1975, a new model known as the 320 was worn by Tom Fleming to win the Boston Marathon.
New Balance still focuses first on fit and comfort. The brand’s “endorsed by no one” philosophy means that it invests in research, design, and domestic manufacturing rather than celebrity endorsements. Instead, New Balance is regularly worn by everyday athletes because of the superior fit and performance.
Today, running shoes are worn just as much off the track, becoming an athletic staple in both men’s and women’s fashion trends.