Looking to capitalize on a full year of hype surrounding the 550, ALD and New Balance made a bold decision over the summer: launch the hottest sneaker of 2022 six months in advance. They doubled down on the success of the basketball-inspired 550 line and brought back the 650R, a hi-top hoops sneaker in a similar array of simple single-color designs and yellowed soles. Rather than stick by the tried-and-true sneaker industry standby of slowly orchestrating leaks for months only to officially confirm the shoe a few weeks before the drop, the brands got bold, not only revealing the shoe nearly six months before it would be available but putting it up for sale then as well. Preorders for the Aime Leon Dore New Balance 650R launched in early August, allowing customers to secure their pair months ahead of the general release.
Sneaker hype moves fast and runs on instant gratification. Even if you get a W on the SNKRS app today, there’s a good chance you’ll be stressed over another draw within the next week. A preorder system like this preaches patience as a virtue, and exudes a confidence suggesting they aren’t worried about their audience getting distracted between now and the official drop next year.
In addition to the shoes the brands also put up two of the higher-end products in the apparel collection for preorder: a hefty court-ready leather varsity jacket and a luxe leather gym bag. Reservations quickly filled up for every product, with shipping and fulfillment set for early 2022. It’s hard to see such a move as anything other than a claim being staked: ALD and New Balance are not only here to stay, they’re here to change the way the sneaker industry functions. Early returns look pretty good.
In November the brands hit customers with a surprise drop consisting of two 993 colorways—one in a rich brown and green, while the other plays off-white and violet suede against cerulean mesh. Both pairs are capped off by a black sole.
While they had initially been teased in the lookbook for ALD’s FW21 collection (among others, Queens icon Action Bronson can be spotted in the brown pair), the draw went live with very little forewarning. Unlike prior collaborations, there’s very little storytelling released confirming the inspiration behind this collection (at least as of this writing). Still, it’s been noted that the brown and green pair seems to draw inspiration from the similarly-colored “Beef and Broccoli” Timberland boots, while the other looks to pay homage to subway graffiti, as evidenced by a promotional video accompanying the drop. A full apparel line was later formally announced, including a lineup of muted tracksuits and fleeces perfect for colder weather in New York (a particular piece comes with pockets equipped to hold cans of spray paint for any aspiring subway artists out there).