In 2018, New Balance Hoops announced they would be back in the NBA, choosing Kawhi Leonard to be their signature athlete. This closely followed PUMA’s re-entry into basketball, and it appears New Balance will follow in using a start-up style, unique position in the market to grow an organic community following. As seen in the promotional video above, the brand is focusing on their quiet star’s ‘no frills’ style of play. While many made jokes about the pairing, this seems like a perfect fit for the quiet Leonard and the often over-looked performance brand. Over the NBA All-Star break, Leonard donned New Balance Hoops’s debut model: the New Balance OMN1S.
The OMN1S will debut in six colorways, such as “Detroit Camo”, “Trust Leonard”, and “DNA”- all which allude to different aspects of All-Star Kawhi Leonard’s emerging legacy. The black colorway pictured is the “Best Kept Secret” colorway, which Leonard wore during the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend. Each colorway has slight design variations but utilizes the same base model.
The shoe features a black and white synthetic upper that has a digi-pattern covering it. A red band with ‘New Balance’ tightens down the midfoot and faux leather is used around the ankle and adorned with the classic New Balance ‘N’ logo. On the tongue and interior ankle is Kawhi’s new branding, KL2. Finally, the shoe features claw-like lace eyelets and a white midsole with FuelCell technology.
For most people, this shoe is probably better than what they expected. Despite making high-quality, functional product, New Balance is still considered a “dad brand”. Even as ‘dad style’ is extremely popular, the company’s announcement that it would be re-entering basketball was generally met with jocular responses. Still, positioning themselves with the unassuming assassin Leonard seems like a perfect fit for both to retain their brand while boosting each other respectively.
The shoe is simple, but fits the current market, and gives New Balance a great base to expand from in the future. This strategy was employed by PUMA Hoops as well, as they also started with a single initial model, and have since added a second.
Time will tell if New Balance is able to accrue enough clout to stand as another player in the basketball market. Basketball as a sport has seen some halted growth, but new pushes by the NBA to expand further internationally should continue to open space for greater brand involvement.
At this time, there is no official release information available. Check below for the special edition packaging, and we’ll let you know when more we have more info!