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The Complete History of Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Collaborations

New York City-based fashion label Aimé Leon Dore and Boston’s own New Balance. have quickly formed what is one of the most symbiotic relationships in the world of sneaker collaborations. Since the start of the partnership in 2019, the popularity of each brand has skyrocketed, and the duo has left an indelible mark on the sneaker scene through the revival of the NB 550. Not only have they revived several models from NB's archives, but they’ve highlighted staple silhouettes including various 99Xs, the 1906R, and the 860v2.

History Of Both Brands

Founded in 2014 by Teddy Santis, a New York City-based designer of Greek descent, Aimé Leon Dore’s brand ethos is deeply rooted in Santis' upbringing. His passion for New York street culture (especially the borough of Queens), sports, and art – coupled with an emphasis on simple and timeless designs – has led to Teddy’s label gaining a cult-like following. The label's early days were marked by limited-edition collections that quickly gained popularity among fashion enthusiasts and influencers.

ALD's design language goes hand-in-hand with New Balance, which has produced footwear since 1906. Since introducing their first silhouette, the Trackster, New Balance has released countless designs from their Boston headquarters, some of the most prominent being the 574, 1500, and the 99X series. As trends shifted in the late 2010s, the “dad shoe” aesthetic that New Balance had cultivated for decades became in style and is partially responsible for a resurgence in the brand’s popularity.

History Of The Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Partnership

Santis and co. began their work with New Balance in 2019 by crafting two renditions of the 997. Immediate approval from both the media, which put the model in numerous year-end lists, and consumers showed NB and ALD their formula worked to perfection. We’d see more 99X models get the ALD treatment, but the 550 revival is where things truly took off for the duo.

Taking the Steven Smith-designed New Balance 550 that had not seen a release in decades, Santis dressed the model in 2020 with a series of collegiate colors and vintage aesthetics. This collab is what cemented the relationship between the two partners and was met with critical acclaim, alongside major demand on the aftermarket, with the pack now selling for more than double its retail price. If it wasn’t for Teddy flipping through a vintage Japanese magazine and discovering the 550, the silhouette might not have made a return. The model’s blueprints had been lost, and NB’s design team had to fly to Japan to find a collector with an original pair. The designers then deconstructed the sneaker to figure out how to recreate it for mass production.

The fruitful partnership ultimately led to Teddy Santis being appointed in 2021 as the creative director of New Balance's Made In USA line. Santis' keen eye for design and his ability to connect with consumers through storytelling made him an ideal candidate for the role. His appointment also signaled New Balance's continued commitment to nurturing and leveraging creative talent from within the streetwear community.

Both ALD and New Balance have benefited significantly from their partnership. For ALD, collaborating with an established brand in New Balance has helped to amplify its presence in the global fashion market and solidify its reputation as a purveyor of high-quality, stylish streetwear. Conversely, New Balance has been able to tap into ALD's cult following and attract a new generation of consumers who appreciate the clean, understated designs synonymous with the Boston-based brand.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the complete history of Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance collaborations and explore the milestones that have shaped their legacy.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 997 Pack (April 2019)

The collaboration that sparked the now-iconic partnership, the Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 997 featured two colorways in neutral shades contrasted by vibrant colors on the tongue, collar, and top eyestays. One pair came with a "Pink Tongue" while the other featured a "Yellow Tongue." Helping market the collaboration, Teddy Santis recreated a vintage New Balance advertisement from the New Balance 320. In the original print ad, we see an older man and older women dressed in raincoats sporting bright blue pairs of the 320. This same theme was applied with an older man wearing one of each colorway on his feet. Many die-hard New Balance and ALD fans look to this as one of the best releases from the duo, and secondary market prices of nearly $1,000 today reflect the insane demand for the pair.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 990v2 (November 2019)

Just like on the 997, Aimé Leon Dore spearheaded a small marketing campaign drawing inspiration from vintage NB ads for the 990v2 collab. ALD dressed the model in premium pig skin suede overlays, mesh underlays, and typical 990v2 materials, including a TPU heel counter. Shades of grey mixed well with the vibrant blue, green, and yellow across the upper, while the sole unit opted for a more vintage look.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 990v5 (November 2019)

ALD’s New Balance 990v5 launched alongside the 990v2 and hit similar notes with its color palette and material makeup. Swapping out the mesh underlay, the v5 featured corduroy as its base layer while incorporating a two-tone green and navy blue color palette.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 827 Pack (March 2020)

With the tagline “Runners aren’t normal,” Teddy and NB created a vibrant three-pack for the New Balance 827. The technical runner from 1999 came with synthetic suede overlays in a series of bright colors to contrast the stark white mesh base layer below. One pair featured a mainly white build while multi-color accents along the eyelets, sockliner, branding details, and portions of the toe and heel. The other two each hosted bright colors on the mudguard, midfoot overlay, and heel, with one pair featuring yellow overlays and the other red.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 1300 (August 2020)

Launched in two colorways, the Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 1300 featured Made In USA construction and took on a gardening theme. One pair came in a rose pink shade with accenting vintage creams, stark whites, and navy hits. The second pair featured a grassy green hue covering most of the upper, accompanied by similar vintage hits and white accents. Both sneakers featured premium suede along their overlays with mesh on their base layer. Alongside the sneakers, ALD crafted a small apparel collection, including co-branded gardening gloves.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 550 (October 2020)

A highlight moment in the recent history of sneakers, the revival of the New Balance 550 came at the perfect time. The Dunk craze was reaching all-time high, and Santis was able to offer an alternative to the perpetually sold-out model from Nike. For its initial return, ALD released four colorways of the New Balance 550. All four pairs featured a creamy, vintage white upper with accenting hits of navy blue, red, grey, or green While nearly all these same colorways have since been released without ALD branding, the ALDs are still some of the most sought-after versions.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 550 Pt 2 (April 2021)

After the release of the first ALD x NB 550 Pack, Teddy Santis was appointed as the Creative Director of New Balance’s Made In USA line. Before we could get looks at his first sneaker in the new role, Teddy went back to the drawing board with the 550 and crafted another two colorways while restocking two previous pairs. Following the same format as the last collaboration on the model, a vintage treatment was applied to the model with a “Natural Green” and “White Navy Red” colorway being offered.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650R (July 2021)

ALD helped revive the high-top cousin of the 550, the New Balance 650R, prior to it becoming a regular inline release for NB. ALD offered three colorways on their site for pre-order, making it easy for anyone to secure a pair of highly sought-after sneakers. The only catch was that you’d have to wait months before its arrival. All three colorways featured a creamy leather base with “Grey,” “Navy,” or “Green” accents.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 993 Pack (November 2021)

Teddy Santis and ALD followed up their revival of the 650R with a two-pack of the 993. ALD dressed the silhouette in “Taupe” and a tonal “Brown,” the latter resembling the classic “Beef & Broccoli” color scheme often associated with Timberland. As had come to be expected, we saw co-branded details and premium materials. Later in 2022, the “Taupe” pair restocked through various retailers.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650R Red (April 2022)

Unlike previous offerings of the 650 and 550 silhouette, ALD produced just one new colorway for the release of the New Balance 650R “White Red.” The model retained its ALD touch via the vintage aesthetic, cracked leather on the “N” logo, and co-branded details. Previous colorways for the model were also restocked at the same time.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 991 Made In UK Pack (May 2022)

Turning the quality dial to 11, ALD and NB looked to the latter’s Flimby, United Kingdom factory to produce two ultra-premium pairs of the New Balance 991. Both color schemes featured green accents against neutral bases. The “Grey Green” pair received a pigskin suede finish for its overlays, and the “Tan Green” appeared in leather. With the Made In UK construction, the retail price ballooned to a whopping $275, though this didn’t stop die-hard fans from trying to cop.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 550 Pack (June 2022)

By 2022, the New Balance 550 had solidified itself as a staple in the sneaker market. Across three new colorways, we saw the same vintage color palette with muted tones on the “Purple,” “Olive,” and “Brown” pairs. After the initial raffle and a release riddled with errors, ALD offered select customers pre-orders to arrive in 2023.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650R Pack (October 2022)

Following up on another 550 pack, ALD went back to the 650R. This three-pack featured more colorful renditions, with the sneaker taking on “Navy,” “Gray,” and “Green” color palettes. Each sneaker primarily came in its titular shade with accenting hits on the “N” logo, collar, and sole unit.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 550 Pack (November 2022)

ALD continued working on the 550, introducing two neutral-toned colorways of the silhouette, with one pair featuring an unprecedented suede upper. This suede-covered pair was mostly grey, while the leather rendition kept things ultra-clean with a primarily white upper.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Rainier Boot Pack (December 2022)

ALD came forward with three pairs of the oft-forgotten New Balance Rainier Boot in a move no one saw coming. This collection of beautifully colored sneakers with premium materials poised the model for a GR return and even a future collab with Joe Freshgoods.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 860v2 (April 2023)

Straying from the usual 99X models, 550s, and retro runners, ALD tackled the 860v2. Three distinct colorways — “Green,” “Blue,” and “Red” hit shelves and featured an homage to Queens, NY. The borough's crest was present on both the sneaker and the included dust bag.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 1906R (May 2023)

ALD turned to another 2010s runner with the New Balance 1906R. The ALD x NB formula continued here with a creamy, vintage-like finish applied to the mesh, leather, and TPU upper. Accenting the creamy hits were hits of jade and dark green. Like the 860v2, Santis also includes a nod to Queens through the borough’s crest found on the sneaker and dust bug.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 550 (May 2023)

ALD and NB once again took on the New Balance 550. Two colorways were presented, one taking on tonal brown suede and the other in taupe suede. Based on the models success, we should expect to see even more collaborative 550s in the future.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650 Gum Pack (June 2023)

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650 Gum Pack Lateral
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650 Gum Pack

Adding to its 650 collection, Aimé Leon Dore crafted two collegiate-based color schemes with gum bottoms, one featuring Green accents and the other University Blue. For its base, we see a sandwich mesh while leather makes up the rest of the upper.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 860v2 Pt 2 (July 2023)

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 860v2 Pt 2
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 860v2 Pt 2

ALD previously utilized a preorder system for select releases, and its second pack of New Balance 860v2s was released this way. Unlike the first collection, this second pack featured two vibrant options, Yellow and Orange, alongside a neutral White pair. Shipping is expected to take place in Spring 2024.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance T500 Pack (September 2023)

Aime Leon Dore x New Balance T500 Pack
Aime Leon Dore x New Balance T500 Pack

Teddy Santis and ALD have a knack for reviving long-forgotten silhouettes. While the 550 and 650 were major successes and have become staples in the sneaker community, the T500, a former performance tennis sneaker, somewhat flopped. You can still find pairs on ALD's website for all three pairs, Red, Black, and Green.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Masaryk Community Gym Pack (November 2023)

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Masaryk Community Gym Pack
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Masaryk Community Gym Pack

New York City's Masaryk Community Gym was honored with a pack of collaborative Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650s and 550s. Two pairs of each model were crafted, a 550 Gold Navy, 550 Vintage Green, 650 Gold Navy, and 650 Green. Alongside the sneakers, an apparel collection was released.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 996 Made in USA Pack (December 2023)

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 996 Made in USA Pack
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 996 Made in USA Pack

Besides helming the Made in USA line, the last time Teddy Santis got to work on a Made In release was back in May 2022 with the New Balance 991. More than a year and a half later and Aimé Leon Dore went back to this illustrious series via the 996 Made in USA Black and White.

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Rainier Low Pack (December 2023)

Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Rainier Low Pack
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance Rainier Low Pack

Just a few weeks after ALD's take on the 996, the brand announced the final Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance release of 2023 with the Rainier Low Pack. Having helped reintroduce the Rainier back into the New Balance lineup, the low-top variant of this outdoor hiking boot finally received the ALD treatment. Three pairs were crafted, one in Brown, another in Grey, and finally a Yellow iteration.

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