The initial, 1996 press release announcing the debut of the 850 ticked all the standard, New Balance boxes: elite performance, serious runners, state of the art technology (ABZORB, C-Cap, Rollbar), available in multiple width sizing. There was no indication that, visually, the 850 would diverge so radically from the classic looks that New Balance devotees have come to rely on, nearly as much as the performance qualities.
If done with less than perfect skill, the departure from the classic New Balance aesthetic could have been seen as a shocking betrayal. Fortunately, as far as interpreting the superior performance driven design of New Balance footwear through the stylistic lens of the mid 90s, it would be difficult to ask anything more of the 850. A mesh and leather upper design featuring a copious amount of overlapping elements creates a decidedly modern, layered, wavy silhouette, with New Balance branding relocated to the tongue and heel. A carbon rubber outsole provides extra durability, and a dose of aesthetic ruggedness.
There is one thing that hasn’t changed in the years between 1996 and 2019. The New Balance 850 is a shoe that just feels different.
If a size is not listed, it is sold out.