New Balance 580

20th Anniversary Pop-up Gallery

In 1996, the original MT580 was developed and released in Japan. For its 20th anniversary, the iconic trail shoe has been re-engineered in a modern three-piece silhouette. In honour of the 20th Anniversary of the 580 silhouette, a special pop-up gallery was set up in Singapore. 

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Originally released as a Japan-exclusive sneaker, the MT580 stepped onto the scene in 1996 as the first state-of-the-art trail runner with innovative features that included: a full ground contact sole with a high-quality, lightweight stability technology called "ROLLBAR", the "C-CAP" cushioning element, and a high-performance absorbing technology, dubbed "ENCAP". The model quickly became a fashion favourite in 2000, after New Balance collaborated with mita sneakers, a Japanese footwear retailer, and realmadHECTIC, a Tokyo streetwear label, on the 580 shoes. The collaboration was a break-out hit. The MT580 model was instantly legitimised and demand exploded in Japan. For many years the 580 remained exclusive to Japan. The community in the US and Europe began to seriously covet New Balance's Japan exclusives. In 2007, New Balance finally introduced the MT580 to the US market. Collaborations with Packer Shoes, Shoe Gallery, Burn Rubber, Bait, Capsule and West NYC cemented the shoe as a go-to model for co-branded retail projects. It has since developed a large cult following, making it one of the Boston-based brand's most beloved products.

 

To commemorate the 20th anniversary for the 580 series, New Balance opened a pop-up in the popular Orchard Road shopping district. We conceived the pop-up gallery's scheme as a forum where a variety of stories can be told. First, the evolution of the 580 from a low-key debut to cult status. Second, 580's legacy of collaboration. As hard as it is to imagine today, sneaker collaborations did not exist in the mid-90s. The New Balance x mita sneakers x realmadHECTIC collaboration was where the concept was born. The third is the 580's innovation. As the shoe celebrated its 20th anniversary, the 580 was reimagined with its biggest makeover. The "Re-engineered" and "Deconstructed" hybrid 580s use knitted construction and seamless uppers to reinvigorate the model, delivering a streamlined version of a 90s mesh-and-suede staple.

We designed the space to be as flexible as possible. Various floor markings and wall materials were used to suggest division, but the main area was open and wall-less. Flexible structures are used to set up various events, and to accommodate the products. At the entrance, a panelled wall with debs and emboss letterings highlighted the significant milestones to celebrate pivotal points in the 580 evolution. A range of products from the Spring/Summer collection was displayed on white platforms in the centre of the gallery. Situated at the back of the gallery, on a wall, a commissioned motion film by local creative outfit Tmrrw Studio was played on the loop, depicting the ideas of "Re-engineered" and "Deconstructed" behind the new 580s.

The interior element was inspired by the words of Shigeyuki Kunii, Creative Director of mita sneakers, on its collaboration with the brand: "New Balance gave us the freedom to create and promote as we liked. Although common now, it was truly groundbreaking at the time to work with such a high degree of freedom." To reflect the brand's bold approach to collaboration, hundreds of 580s shoes in white protruded from the walls of the gallery, arranged in a regimented pattern across every wall, intended to resemble a blank canvas, a design playground fro collaborators - past, present and future. The brand gathered a great archive of almost all the 580 models including limited edition collaborations with global sneaker stores, retailers and fashion labels such as mita sneakers, Stussy, HECTIC, Undefeated, Colette, Wings + Horns, Bait, Packer Shoes and New Era. These were presented in spaces at the eye level, standing out against the white volumes. It was an art installation, in which the shoes were definitely the main focus.

For this anniversary, New Balance invited Shigeyuki Kunii, along with realmadHECTIC co-founders Naotake Magara and Yoshifumi Egawa, to once again to collaborate on the New Balance 580 sneakers. Twenty-five pairs were made available exclusively at the pop-up gallery. For the launch of this 580 collaboration, every purchase of the limited-edition sneakers came with an exclusive lace locks that were 3D printed on-site. As part of the celebration, the brand brought together Shigeyuki Kunii and Tetsuya Shono, Global Director of New Balance Sports Style to host a panel discussion for the local 580 fans to talk about the importance of the580s in sneaker culture, its impact on the collaboration culture, and also to share the often forgotten story of this cult favourite sneaker.

Client

New Balance Singapore

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