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New Balance 550 Sneakers You Need to Know

A brief history of the New Balance 550

In spite of the fact that most people know the New Balance 550 as the product of a collaboration with Aimé Leon Dore, they are unaware of its origins, which is kind of the reason why we’re here: to shed some light on the history of this model.

This sneaker was launched in 1989, designed by legendary sneaker designer Steven Smith, who has worked on sneaker models such as the New Balance 996, Reebok Instapump Fury, and Nike Zoom Spiridon Cage on his resume, as well as one of the lead designers for adidas Yeezy. 

A high-top basketball shoe based on the New Balance 480, the 550 was an alternative to the New Balance 650. Perforated leather panels and mesh detailing enhanced the breathability of the 550, originally known as the “P550 Basketball Oxford.” Additionally, the 550 was given a bubble-style “N” logo to reflect the late 1980s graffiti and pop art craze.

There was an improvement in performance over the 650 and 480 with the 550. As with those models, it suffered from the fact that Puma, Avia, and Reebok offered similar performance basketball shoes tied to signature athletes. Reebok’s Pump technology and Nike’s Air cushioning were also more marketable than New Balance’s. Consequently, New Balance phased out the 550 quickly.

How to Legit Check New Balance 550: The Side ‘N’ Logo Method 

Analyzing the shape and placement of the ‘N’ logo on the side panel is an easy way to spot a fake New Balance 550 sneaker.

The ‘N’ on an authentic New Balance 550 is well defined and has space on all sides. Top and bottom indents are narrow and angled, making the letter easy to read. Under the logo, the stitch lines outlining the ‘N’ do not touch.

The most common indication of a fake New Balance 550 is if the ‘N’ appears too large on the side panel with stitching that disappears underneath the green detailing on the lower panel (see the picture above for an example of a good replica where this does not occur). There is a possibility that a fake New Balance 550’s ‘N’ might look lumpy or bubbly, with a less defined shape resulting in more of an ‘H’ than an ‘N’.

On your pair of New Balance 550s, you can look for the texture of the ‘N’ logo, which you cannot tell from pictures. Using your fingernail, run it over the ‘N’ and it should have a fine ridged texture, similar to lenticular prints. A fake New Balance 550 ‘N’ logo can be identified by its smooth surface.  

New Balance 550 Real vs. Fake: The Overall Look Method 

The size is a key factor in determining the authenticity of New Balance 550s. Real New Balance 550s are typically larger than replicas. There is a good chance that they’ll run smaller in terms of shoe size (so an 8.5 might fit like an 8 or somewhere in between) and narrower as well.

It is possible that the shoe will fit without noticeable size issues. Refer to another authenticated New Balance sneaker of the same size or the sole of another sneaker of the same size when measuring the sole of your New Balance 550.

Should I buy original or fake sneakers?

Buying fake sneakers is a great choice, because the quality has been close to the original, they are the same product and production process.

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