New Balance unveils the world’s ugliest shoes

Last week, New Balance released a new collection of sneakers in its Made Responsibly line. The shoes are made with a mix of factory scraps and new materials, and each pair is unique, thanks to the variety of sourced materials and the design is the standard New Balance 998 model. There were about 2,700 pairs made, each priced at $180, and they sold out as soon as they became available on May 1.

Unique is one way to describe them. Another would be the sneaker version of a Spider-Verse glitch. Or, you know, just plain ugly. Yet, as any Yeezy release will tell you, there is no universal standard for ugly kicks. The glitch-looking models are primarily for show, with more standard 998 versions for sale.

On the surface, it appeared to be yet another marketing stunt, mixing the obsession of sneaker culture with a little sustainability hype. After all, high-end sneakers made with factory scraps or recycled materials are nothing new—Steve Nash debuted Nike’s “Trash Talk” shoe in 2008—but behind this design curiosity and sneaker drop is a message about New Balance’s new sustainability goals and initiatives.


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