New Balance Classics promote Moments of Excellent through each designer to the resulting products’ fresh styles and clean looks. Here, we’ve sat down with NB designer Christian Gross to get the low-down on being a NB designer and the Classics he designs.
The 574 would be a ’57 Chevy. It’s got iconic style. It’s built well to stand the test of time, and has been colored in more ways than you can count. The 710 is like the Land Rover Defender series. It was developed out of necessity for a comfortable and durable lace-up hiking boot, with help from mountaineering expert, Lou Whittaker. The Defender slugs through brutal conditions worldwide for off-road expeditions, while 710s have done the same in places like Mount Everest, K2, and Kanchenjunga.
Do you consider yourself a sneakerhead?
I keep on top of the footwear game and have a deep-rooted passion for shoes. I spend many hours scouring stores, blogs, and product websites to see what’s out there. I’m just as interested in checking out high-fashion $700 high-tops as I am the latest basketball drop.
How did you end up as a NB Classics designer? What’s a typical day like?
I joined the NB Lifestyle team over two years ago. I had worked with several other footwear companies on everything from classics to high performance footwear. A typical day could start by doing a little market research on some blogs, followed by sketching some new uppers or outsole designs. Then maybe executing some new colorways and sifting through material books, followed by reviewing and revising a CAD [Computer-aided Design] drawing. There could then be a discussion of some theme ideas with our color and trend designer that leads to an impromptu product marketing meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page. The days can be very busy, but working closely with a very talented design team makes the time fly!
When you’re designing NB Classics, are there certain colors or materials that you’re drawn to?
I love working with leather/mesh combos and tonal color progressions. It’s the layering of different colors and materials and how they react to each other while curving around a shoe that really pull everything together. The icing on the cake is when you can throw in an unexpected pop that can take the shoe to the next level.
How did the 574 become so versatile?
The paneling on the 574 is incredible. The sum of all the individual pieces on the upper and the sole unit is the core reason for its versatility and longevity. Since it is so iconic for us, we place great importance on the constant reinvention of this shoe. We focus our energy in pushing the limits of materials and treatments that will start on the 574 and trickle through our line in subsequent seasons.