Matt Kyte, owner of CONTRA, @contragram a premiere fashion boutique, New Balance aficionado, authoritative voice and creator for the the @997archive takes time out to answer a few questions from YCMC.com sneaker reviewer PatisDope.
Why was the 997 put on hold, and why was it such a big deal to bring it back with all the other looks you could choose?
“Well initially it was superseded by the 998, although there’s evidence to suggest they did coexist for a brief period of time. As far as why it was a big deal to me personally it comes down to the fact that it was one of the last remaining NB silhouettes that hadn’t been seen for decades. The rarity of it considering that every other 99x series shoe had been retro’d at least once added to the allure of them.”
What did New Balance see in the 997 to first create the silhouette for women?
“I believe that it came purely from the brand’s ethos to make no compromises on performance. It’s pretty well known these days that (generally) men & women have unique running requirements not just in clothing but also in their footwear. With the 99x series NB set out to make the most advanced running shoe no-holds-barred, ever since that first “$100 shoe” 990 in 1983. With the 997 I figure that NB had realized female runners needed something different to the men’s models & that’s where it began.”
How do you feel about the price of the 997H and what color do you like the most, of of the newest, the white or the grey/dark teal?
“I’m a pretty basic dude, for me you’re never going to top a pair of NBs in their original grey “corporate colours”. If you’re giving me a choice between these two though I’d go with the white/pink joints which remind me a bit of the NBX 900 which sported a very similar set of colours in the 90s. It would have sat alongside the 997 at some point so it seems fitting to mix them together.”
If there was any athlete over the last 10 years that you could represent the 997 shoe only who would it be and why?
“Nobody haha. NB always had a very strict rule of not using athletes to promote their runners at the time & that’s why you’ll never see it in their print media. There was some association with James Worthy on the basketball stuff but other than that not much. I always admired NB’s “these are so good you’ll buy them anyway” approach to their product. The most famous person I associate the model with is former US President Bill Clinton, he had custom pairs made for him during his time in office. That could make for a pretty funny tongue-in-cheek style ad that NB was so good at in the 80s/90s so can I nominate him?”
What’s the most special part of the 997? If you had to market the silhouette to win the wearers support how would you do it? What would be the main focus?
“I guess it depends if we’re talking about back when it was a fully-fledged running shoe or now when it has taken on a life after it has long been superseded. I’ve always been fond of the old NB ad’s which spell out the tech & expect you to buy them based solely on that so I guess I’d probably base it around that.”
“If I’m going to be marketing it as a modern-day retro sneaker, I’d be looking at the USA-made version & run on the point of “Timeless, uncompromising & unapologetic”. It’s expensive because it’s well made, it’s timeless because it’s not flashy & it’s unapologetic because it’ll be that way whether you like it or not, trends or no trends. If you need any more convincing than that, you probably won’t understand the shoe.”
The New Balance 997H, the latest silhouette in the 99X series is available now. Check out the full family of sizes for Men, Women, and Kids in the 997H