new balance 2002r navy

These New Balance Sneakers Are Boring, Good-Looking, and Affordable (For Now)

There's nothing super special about the new New Balance shoe, which is exactly why it's selling like crazy.

Fast Facts

New Balance’s 2002R, which were re-released last year, are some of the best-looking affordable sneakers of this year. Buy them before they sell out. 

As a brand, New Balance has been many things over the years. It’s been a middle-aged dad favorite—what else are you going to mow the lawn in, ya know?—and, more recently, a favorite among younger guys looking for a well-made, low-key, and comfortable sneaker. It’s even become something of a streetwear staple, which is likely a surprise to both the brand and anyone who wore them in their Dads Mowing Lawns era. The brand’s resurgence isn’t new, the brand itself isn’t new, and, ironically, neither is its newest shoe, the 2002R, which was re-released this year after years of riding the bench. Like most new New Balance, it’s best to buy before everybody else catches on. Here’s what’s up. 

new balance 2002r navy details
The 2002R carries many usual New Balance traits; a mixed material upper, light color contrast, down-the-middle design. (Image Credit: Mr Porter)

What’s Special About the New Balance 2002R?

Well, they’re certainly nothing new. The 2002R was originally released in 2010 before the current New Balance renaissance began. Then, it was a super-premium sneaker (even for New Balance) with a huge amount of support in the soles and solid construction. Then, it cost $250 for a pair. Last year, New Balance brought it back, retailing for over $100 less. 

The “hype,” if it’s worth trying to follow at all, came from a series of high-profile collaborations between the Boston-based shoe brand and various popular sneaker shops and clothing labels. The fruit of those collaborations is largely one-off colorways or slight redesigns (the most popular of which is probably the “Protection Pack” series), but the standard offerings—you know, the navys and grays New Balance is known for—are more versatile and just as good-looking. 

How Much does the New Balance 2002R Cost?

A pair of New Balance 2002Rs costs $140 at retail price. If you Google around for a bit, you’re sure to find some listed higher, but that’s largely the result of sneakerheads preferring specific colorways to others.

What’s the Difference Between the New 2002R and the Original?

So why has a shoe that was $250 more than a decade ago become $110 cheaper? Support and construction, mostly. The original 2002R sported a full N-Ergy sole, for one. The New Balance staple technology is an elastic gel that contains no air bubbles; this means it can bend and flex with your foot and the terrain, and return to its original shape for far longer than a standard foam cushion. The new 2002R is only supported by the N-Ergy sole in the heel of the shoe (the part that kind of looks like shocks on a car). 

Plus, though there isn’t much in the way of details available on this subject, the new 2002R isn’t a part of New Balance’s MADE line of products, which are manufactured in the United States. Most of the MADE products, like the ultra-popular 990 sneakers, are considered of higher quality than the standard New Balance shoe.