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Why is the New Balance “996” so popular? An in-depth look at the enduring appeal of this classic sneaker

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Why is the New Balance "996" so popular? An in-depth look at the enduring appeal of this classic sneaker

New Balance offers a wide variety of models, from simple running shoes to high-tech sneakers, but the “996” is the most popular of all. In this issue, we will focus on the appeal of the “996.

A long-selling model from a long-established shoe manufacturer that offers superb comfortWhat is the New Balance 996?

“New balance” is a long-established shoe manufacturer in Boston, USA. There are many world-famous sneaker brands, but no other brand has earned such a high reputation for “comfort” as New Balance. New Balance was founded in 1906 as the world’s first manufacturer of arch support insoles. In addition to producing high-quality insoles, the company has been solving foot problems by manufacturing orthopedic shoes. This expertise has held true from the 1960s, when the company entered the running shoe manufacturing business, to the present. While respecting the iconic design of traditional models, the company continues to attract support from people all over the world through the development of products that constantly pursue the ultimate in comfort.

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The “996” is one of New Balance’s long-selling models that continues to be loved by men and women of all ages. This model was introduced in 1988 as the third model in the 990 series, which was the focus of much attention for its catchphrase, “990 out of 1000.

As anyone familiar with New Balance knows, there are many different types within the 996. Currently, the two most popular models for men are the ” Made in USA 996″ and the “CM996”. The “Made in USA 996,” as the name suggests, is made in the U.S.A. and follows the original “M996,” making it a favorite of the toughest of the tribe. The price is 35,200 yen (including tax) as of February 2024. Incidentally, the 996 made in the U.S. before the “Made in USA 996” was announced was named the “M996.

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The “CM996” is a more affordable version of the “Made in USA 996” that retains the same look and feel. The midsole is made of compressed EVA material and features a two-layer midsole with C-CAP for improved durability and reduced weight, and a PU insole.

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Editor Tachibana
The birth of the “CM996” was inspired by New Balance’s “Year of 9’s” campaign for 2019. The “CM996” was introduced as part of this campaign, which is a series of updates to the brand’s iconic “99X” series. The CM996 is already available in a number of limited editions. The CM996 is available in a wide range of variations, including a high-quality suede leather upper, a shoe box design from the 90s, and a challenging new model without the iconic ” N ” logo on the side.

In addition to the two models introduced above, the “996” is also available in a variety of other variations. The spikeless models “UGS996” and “WGBS996” and the women’s model “WL996” are characterized by the different alphabetical designations that are prefixed to them according to their uses and characteristics. Incidentally, the Asian-made model produced before the release of the CM996 was called the “MRL996,” meaning M (men’s), R (Revlite), and L (lifestyle), and was named after the lightweight, shock-absorbing “REV LITE” midsole with excellent cushioning properties. The name “REV LITE” is derived from the fact that the shoe used a “REV LITE” midsole, a shock-absorbing material with superior lightweight cushioning.

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New Balance offers a wide variety of models, from simple running shoes to high-tech sneakers, but the "996" is the most...

If you want to stick to the originals, made in USA, and if you want to choose the best in terms of cost performance, made in Asia is a strong candidate!

When comparing the “Made in USA 996” and the “CM996” introduced above, you will not notice that much of a difference in appearance. If you look closely, there are certain differences such as “materials used in the upper and midsole” and “shoe tongue design,” but both models are of a quality that fully meets the standards of New Balance shoes. Both models are of a quality that meets the standards of New Balance shoes. If you are looking for the warmth of a classic handmade shoe, the American-made “996” is a good candidate, while the Asian-made “CM996” is a good candidate if you value affordability and ease of daily use.

The “996” made in the U.S.A. has the words “MADE IN U.S.A.” engraved on the sole.

Click here for more details and purchase of the “Made in USA “996.

Upper design that switches between different materials for both breathability and design

The upper of the “996” is basically a combination design of suede and mesh. Suede and mesh is a standard detail that has been used in many other New Balance shoes, but the reason it has remained unchanged over the years is because it makes so much sense. Suede is a design element that also has the characteristic of being resistant to rain. In addition, mesh material is used on the instep and other parts of the shoe to ensure breathability.

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What is the size of the 996? If you are unsure of your size, we recommend going up +0.5cm~1cm from the normal size.

The New Balance 996 uses a wood pattern called ” SL-1 “. This wood pattern is also used in the ” M1500,” ” 57/40 SL-1,” and ” MT580,” and is characterized by its slim and stylish silhouette.

Editor Tachibana
Although it may vary from person to person, I recommend that you choose the ” 996 ” a size up +0.5~1cm from your normal sneakers. When I wear ” 990v3 “, ” 990v6″ or ” 574 ” of New Balance, I feel a little roomy in 26.5cm, but the width of “996” is a little tight in 26.5cm. So 27cm is the perfect size for “996”. I talked to a New Balance store employee who told me that the “996” is made with a tighter width than other New Balance sneakers, so many people buy a size up +0.5~1cm from their normal size.
Editor Izumi
I usually wear the Converse CT70 and the New Balance ” 574 ” in 27cm, but the “996” feels just right in 27.5cm. By the way, I also wear the ” 991v2 ” in 27.5cm. The New Balance website also introduces the standard “574” and “996” with a comparison of their silhouettes and features. It may help you to choose the size.

Find the New Balance “996”

The “N” mark on the side. The “N” mark on the side of the sneaker is the brand’s symbolic detail that identifies the sneaker as a “New Balance sneaker” no matter where the wearer looks. The size of the N mark differs depending on the model. Sneakers made up to the late 1990s tended to use the large “Deka N” mark, while those made later tended to use the smaller “Chibi N” mark. The “996” sneaker, introduced in 1988, uses the Deka N. The “996” sneaker has a slightly retro look, with the N mark. The slightly retro-looking N mark matched the 90s revival trend.

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The “996” is one of the most popular New Balance sneakers by far. Its authentic finish is perfect for the feet of adults who coordinate simple, relaxed looks. The stylish form of the “SL-1” wooden pattern is perfect for casual wear with a T-shirt and jeans, as well as for Ivy-inspired outfits.

Editor Tachibana
Personally, I find New Balance sneakers to be more intelligent and elegant than other brands. This is not only because of their design, but also because of their historical background as a manufacturer of orthopedic shoes to correct flat feet in Boston, an academic city with universities such as Massachusetts and Harvard. It would be wonderful to enjoy the coordination of “996” on the feet of American casual and traditional style with such history in mind. It fits not only with authentic outfits, but also with the feet of modern oversized outfits as picked up below.
Editor Tachibana
Incidentally, in 2023, the 35th anniversary of the ” 996,” a model designed for ease of use in semi-formal environments by incorporating elements of leather shoes will be released. If you want to match the “996” with a beautiful coordinate, please check it out.

Sole design for comfort unique to road running shoes

The design of the sole is one of the most important factors in sneakers that greatly affects comfort. The original 996’s midsole is a combination of the “C-CAP” sole unit, which is made of EVA material and compression-molded to be lightweight, and the “ENCAP” sole unit, which provides shock absorption and stability. This sole structure is basically used in the “Made in USA 996” that is currently being developed. The “CM996” made in Asia uses a two-layer midsole with C-CAP and a PU insole, which is slightly different in terms of comfort.

Editor Tachibana
Comparing the “Made in USA 996,” which follows the sole construction of the classic 996, with the Asian-made “CM996,” I got the impression that the “Made in USA 996” has a thicker, stiffer cushioned sole and is more sturdily built. Even though the sole is stiffer, the suede used for the upper is very soft and easy to walk in. I felt that the difference in price is firmly reflected in the quality.

The sole of the USA-made ” 996 ” confirms the ENCAP branding.

Look for the USA-made “996”.

Editor Tachibana
Both “996s” are comfortable, but the sole of the “CM996” may feel a bit thin for those who wear high-priced New Balance sneakers priced over $30,000, such as the “990v6” and “991v2.” However, as of February 2024, the “CM996” is less than half the price of its USA-made counterpart, and it comes in a wide variety of colors. Some people may think, “The comfort is lacking, but I prefer the coloring of the CM996. The CM996 is a great choice for people who are looking for a new pair of shoes.

“CM996” sole set with C-CAP branding

Look for the “CM996.”

Editor Tachibana
In fact, New Balance offers a wide variety of insoles as well as sneakers. It is natural for New Balance insoles to be used with the ” 996,” but they do not look out of place and do not detract from the appearance when the shoes are taken off. Incidentally, I personally recommend the supportive rebound insole for its good balance of price and function.

See New Balance Insoles.

From classic to seasonal. Abundant color variations

The appeal of the 996 is that it is a classic and therefore is available in a wide range of color variations. The “996” is available in a myriad of colors, including seasonal, collaborations with other brands, and limited editions to commemorate anniversaries, not to mention the standard colors that have been continuously developed.

Gray” is the most popular standard color.

If you are in doubt about which color to choose for your New Balance sneakers, gray is the color for you. Gray is recognized as a definite color for almost all New Balance models, and celebrities such as Steve Jobs and Ryuichi Sakamoto have worn gray New Balance shoes.

See the “996” in gray

Navy” and “Black” are the second most popular colors after gray.

If you are looking for a highly versatile shoe that can be easily matched to any outfit, look no further than navy and black. These two colors, like gray, have been a staple of the 996 every season.

See the “996” in navy and black.

The 996, with its excellent use of raw color that expresses a sense of heritage, is popular among highly sensitive and fashionable people.

Sneakers with a vintage or retro feel in coloring have been attracting attention due to the influence of vintage clothing styles that have been popular for the past several years. New Balance has also developed models that partially incorporate raw colors to match the current mood. The colors are less gaudy and more fashionable.

Click here for a list of 996 products

All-leather” is also a good choice for a special look!

The “996” is characterized by an upper design that mixes different materials such as suede and mesh, but some models are also available in a luxurious finish with almost all parts made of leather. The “996” is a leather shoe that can be worn with jacket pants or slacks, or for those who want a special pair of 996s that are hard to match with others.

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The New Balance “996” has also been developed in a different kind of collaboration model with the luxury watch brand Franck Muller!

Because the New Balance “996” is a model that boasts unshakable popularity as a standard, it is easily chosen as the base model for major collaborations. The collaboration with luxury watch brand Franck Muller is a good example. Since the watch was sold out immediately after its release, it will be difficult to obtain one in the future. Since this model is coveted by many enthusiasts, we recommend that you buy it without hesitation when you find it in stock at a trusted sneaker store or the like.

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