Itemized: New Balance

March 29, 2011

Every week a different FADER staff member will pick a clothing item or accessory that he or she has lately been spending a lot of time with—or would like to—and write a little love letter to it. We would’ve done a column on who we’re dating but that seemed a little bit much. This week Alex Frank writes about his favorite New Balance's Sonic 574

My office has had a gym, but I never noticed because I never cared about that kind of thing. Too fancy for me. I had a certain pride in not engaging with America's culture of the treadmill, that machine too much of a metaphor for so many strange, moneyed self-esteem issues. But Manhattan introduces you to all kinds of things that you never knew existed or that you never knew mattered. I always thought that looking bad was the best way to look good, ill-fitting thrift store picks and weird haircuts a plus. But people in New York look good good, not bad good. It can be inspiring or intimidating depending on your mood, but regardless of how you feel, the fog of beauty is thick. Call it Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but three years in New York and I've begun to feel differently about my physical fitness.

Around January, I noticed that I was on a different sort of treadmill all along anyway: the routine of a winter's work day. Wake up, take the subway, sit at work, don't go far for lunch, head straight home, stay inside. So cold, so bleak. I could see it in my face in bigger black circles and sallow skin. I could feel it when I went to sleep because my legs weren't tired. Not only was I objectively not a fit specimen, like so many New Yorkers, but I didn't feel fit either. It was an atrophy that my young self hadn't experienced because my young self never had a 9-to-5. I've become a different person, and so I need different resources in my life. I made the drastic impulse step of signing up for my company gym.

I was not prepared. Truth is, if you never cared about sports it might be easy for you not to own a single piece of athletic gear. I have four billion pairs of Doc Martens, not a single running shoe. I borrowed a pair of my roommates shorts, found an old t-shirt that I never wore, but shoes were trickier. Most trumpted some kind of athletic prowess but were so damn ugly. True to form, I gravitated towards the only shoe that I'd be as happy wearing on the street as the stairmaster, not fully aware of their performance credentials: New Balance. As far as function is concerned, I have nothing to compare them with but I have zero blisters. I wear them at the gym and around the neighborhood, two birds with one stone. Most important, two months after joining the gym after years of bemoaning athletics, I still haven't quit.

From The Collection:

Itemized: New Balance