Next year is shaping up to be a big one for New Balance—and 3D printing, along with a new partnership deal, will be key components.
Earlier this month, New Balance and New York Road Runners announced a 10-year partnership deal that will make the Boston-based footwear maker NYRR’s official footwear and apparel partner starting in 2017. What that means is that come 2017, New Balance will be a new sponsor of the TCS New York City Marathon, the annual event organized by NYRR that had been sponsored in part by Asics for the last 25 years. In addition, New Balance and NYRR have plans to open a New York City running center. The center, which opens in 2016, will feature New Balance products.
It’s a big announcement for the running shoe company as it heads into next month’s Consumer Electronics Show ready to debut its latest innovation: The first running shoe with a 3D-printed midsole.
New Balance plans to start selling its new running shoe in the Boston area in April. As Fortune reported last week, a running shoe with 3D-printed components is something for which Nike (NKE) and Adidas (ADDYY) are also aiming. A 3D-printed shoe is an opportunity for shoe companies to shorten the supply chain, slash costs, and give customers a way to customize their footwear to make truly unique running shoes.
“New Balance is a 109-year-old brand that was founded on innovation, and through the leadership of owners Jim and Anne Davis, we have had the courage to do it our way,” New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini recently told Footwear News. “3D printing has the potential to change the way we make footwear.”
But for New Balance, its 3D-printed shoe—in addition to its new partnership with NYRR—is yet another way the private company is trying to make itself the go-to brand for athletes.
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