Over the past 4 decades New Balance has continued to evolve the 99X series with innovative designs and technology creating a cult following along the way. 2019 will be known by New Balance enthusiasts as the year of the 997 hybrids.
The New Balance 997 first debuted in 1990, the elevated heel pad was the defining feature but the silhouette was full of other tech features like the Polyurethane midsole that housed Encap and C-Cap inserts. Other innovations by designer Steven Smith included the XAR-1000 carbon rubber heel pads and the Hytrel thermoplastic collar lock-down strap. This was also the first runner made specifically for the ladies.
By 1994 the 997 went into retirement. In 2008 the 997 was fused with the sole of the 998 and was officially the first hybrid of the 99X series. Fast forward to 2018 the 997S brings a progressive deviation for the 997 collection with a bulkier heel and sock like construction while keeping the New Balance 99X traditions. Like the 997S the 997 H gives this cult classic a striking midsole with a lightweight feel.
The 997H utilizes lightweight outsoles and an edge deboss and collar influenced by original designer Steven Smith. A favorite of trendsetters today, the bold over-sized New Balance logo lands on the midsole as a symbol of the popular overbranding. High grade synthetic leather gives off a modernized and streamlined look.
The 997 was also a limited style when it comes to major fashion collaboration. From Japanese retailer United Arrows and Sons the 997 collaboration was only sold in Japan to the Ronnie Fieg and Kith collab to the 2014 Concepts collab the silhouette remained popular in the sneaker and fashion world.