we checked in with Addi, our resident sneaker guru, and Irv Jimenez, our man at New Balance, to discuss their collaboration on the new limited-edition New Balance x J.Crew shoe, the 998 Inferno, and their love of sneakers.
I grew up in New York during the birth of hip-hop, when sneakers and music went hand in hand. Every crew had a sneaker. Run-D.M.C. had the shell-top Adidas. LL Cool J? It was the Puma Clyde. Sneakers were a way to express yourself.Addi:
I got my first pair of Jordans in the 4th grade after winning a spelling bee. Man, it was hard. But I needed those Jordans. And, since I grew up in Chicago, it meant even more. He was our hero. Irv:
In New York, it was different. He wasn’t the hometown hero, but having a pair of Jordans was a status symbol. If you had Jordans on, you were the man. Addi:
In fact, Jordans began my appreciation for product design. The Jordan III is widely considered to be the greatest sneaker ever designed. Irv:
Addi and I share a love of simplicity and sense of timelessness. You could release the Jordans right now and they’d still be revolutionary. That’s what we aim for at New Balance. Addi:
That’s why J.Crew and New Balance are such a good fit. New Balance isn’t street—it has always been about pure utility. That’s why it’s cool now. It’s antifashion as fashion. At J.Crew, we inject our take on it. Irv:
Take the Inferno. It’s essentially an update of the classic 998, which has been around since 1993. You’re going to have kids line up for this shoe, and it’s what their dads wore back in the day. The 900 series has always been our highest top-level performance product. It’s made in the United States, which, today, is almost unheard of for a sneaker. Irv:
The process usually begins with Addi and me texting. We really vibe off each other. New Balance pretty much leans on J.Crew to come up with its interpretation of what our 998 could be. Addi:
The idea for the Inferno came about one day when it was freezing in New York—I needed some light therapy. I was getting tired of just working in blues and greys. So I called in swatches of the brightest colors I could find. Intense reds, royal purples, bright oranges. Even the sole has purple on it and the upper is just awash in color. But you still recognize it as the iconic 998. Photography by Bryan Derballa.
To order the exclusive New Balance® x J.Crew Inferno, click here