AURALEE’s New Balance collaborations are normally a one-and-done sorta thing. They get teased on the runway, they sometimes get special campaigns ahead of their release dates, and they inevitably sell out the moment that the sneakers drop.
However, AURALEE and New Balance’s latest collaboration is a lot more intensive, edging close to the level of thoughtfulness epitomized by AURALEE’s seasonal clothing collections.
For the uninitiated, AURALEE is a Japanese brand made for (and by) clothing obsessives. As someone who appreciates anyone willing to painstakingly pore over garment construction down to even the warp and weft, I’m a big fan of all things AURALEE.
AURALEE’s New Balance collaborations are icing atop an already delicious cake, a sweet treat that presumably invites more casual consumers to start paying (deserved) attention to one of the best brands in the biz.
So, although it’s more of an entrée than the main course, AURALEE and New Balance’s partnership is never not worth my time. It doesn’t hurt that AURALEE is also responsible for some of the most gorgeous New Balances on the planet.
“The New Balance collaborations have been a channel for us to introduce and share our work and essence to an even wider audience, to people and communities who may not otherwise even know we are,” AURALEE founder Ryota Iwai told me.
“On a personal level, I have always worn and been a fan of New Balance. There’s a mutual respect.”
But if Iwai is a New Balance fan, Philadelphia’s Richie Roxas is a New Balance fanatic.
Roxas, who goes by @NewBalance365 on Instagram, boasts one of the world’s deepest New Balance collections, built up for nearly three decades and packed with everything from rare sneakers to oddities like water-filled “clocks” and DVDs about posture.
Roxas’ impressive collection isn’t just for show: his NB knowledge runs deep.
As such, he was the perfect third-party expert to bring in for AURALEE and TOKYO DESIGN STUDIO New Balance’s latest collaboration, accompanied by New Balance designer and fellow collector Samuel Pearce.
“Brad Lacey over at NB HQ in Boston reached out to me, Roxas told Highsnobiety. “He was the link between myself and NB Japan. Brad has seen my collection in person and knew I had a wide range of vintage apparel.”
From there, it was all about showing the AURALEE team the goods.
“We were all on a Zoom call, I think last summer, and basically I went through all of my vintage apparel pieces,” recalled Roxas. “It was like an almost 2 hour long call!
“The guys over in Japan took screenshots of some pieces they wanted to ‘re-create’ and I shipped them over. There was some back and forth with various samples,” to ensure that the authenticity stacked up to Roxas’ originals, and the results speak for themselves (or will when the product shots are revealed in due time).
This unusual team-up hearkens back to the early days of AURALEE’s New Balance partnership, when Iwai’s label would exclusively work with New Balance TDS on special sneakers or co-create NB-friendly apparel.
It’s pretty rare for sneaker-minded collaborators to bring in external peers. But, as Roxas pointed out, AURALEE put a lot of love into this collection. As he described it, this is “a long time coming.”
Arriving at New Balance’s Japanese web store and select retailers on March 3, “NB Archive Remastered by AURALEE x TDS” (how’s that for a mouthful) will deliver a comprehensive collection of vintage New Balance sportswear remastered with an AURALEE touch, taking the sportswear brand’s silhouettes beyond the already elevated TDS apparel.
That means pullover sweaters, technical parkas, and sweat-wicking T-shirts that directly reinterpret original New Balance garments pulled from Roxas’ collection, all updated with AURALEE’s inimitable eye for quality and typical earth-toned palette.
AURALEE founder Iwai is himself an admirer of retro clothing — he stockpiles favorite vintage pieces beneath AURALEE’s Omotesando flagship store — which becomes particularly obvious when you peruse any AURALEE collection.
You can tangibly trace the heritage from Iwai’s old-school inspiration to his label’s immensely wearable garments, though AURALEE doesn’t deal in mere reproduction.
Instead, Iwai transforms his influences with bespoke fabrics and exquisite finishing. It’s the same fastidious approach that informs this TOKYO DESIGN STUDIO New Balance collection, albeit guided by Pearce’s steady hand and Roxas’ peerless New Balance know-how.
Now, they just have to ship his original vintage pieces back to Philly.
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