We recently caught up with Mark Logan of Aphrodite Clothing located in the UK to talk about their 20 year Anniversary, their exclusive New Balance wooden box and the New Balance brand in general. (All photos provided by Aphrodite Clothing)
How do you feel about the current state of the sneaker game in the UK?
We feel that the sneaker market is as good now as it ever has been. Dedicated sneaker bloggers can take a large amount of credit for the recent rise of sneaker culture. The rise in social media has also certainly played a large part in this with people keen to share their purchases and collections. There are a number of brands including New Balance that have thrived during this upward turn in the sneaker market whilst others have struggled to keep pace.
Why did you decide to do a custom shoe box?
We are celebrating our 20th Anniversary whereby we had garments commissioned for us by a number of British brands including Barbour, Paul Smith, Grenson and Oliver Spencer. The opportunity arose to produce a limited number of commemorative wooden boxes with New Balance and we jumped at the chance. We hoped that fans of the brand would be appreciative of the chance of being able to win something that was limited and endorsed both our shop and the brand.
Are you working on an upcoming collaboration runner with New Balance?
At the moment there are no plans for a collaboration to produce any Aphrodite x New Balance sneakers but we wouldn’t rule it out in the future. Producing a collaborative sneaker obviously gives you a huge amount of exposure around the sneaker bloggers and opens doors for future collaborations.
20 years is a long time in the game, how do you feel New Balance has helped you along the way?
In the short time that we have stocked New Balance we feel like the brand has had a really good impact. We have found combined with some of our other large sneaker brands such as Adidas, Nike and Saucony we are getting a lot of blog exposure when we promote pre-orders especially. The more exposure on blogs and social media that we receive has a direct correlation to increased visitor numbers to the site and most importantly more orders.
Would you say US made New Balances sell better than UK made New Balances rather than Asian made New Balances?
It wouldn’t be a fair comparison to say that one sells better than the other as we don’t stock as many styles of Made in USA New Balance as the Made in UK range. We do find that the Made in UK range sells very well though and with a large percentage of our customers being from the UK, it could be that they are happy to support British production. This is coupled with the fact that the Made in the UK has a more limited distribution and is seen as more of a niche product. The products produced in Asia are just as popular with the average sneaker collector who doesn’t mind where they are produced.
What do you see New Balance doing differently than other brands?
Primarily the Made in England and Made in USA range set the brand aside from their counterparts. A lot of their competitors predominantly sell shoes produced in Asia. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, some customers appreciate the fact that their shoes have been crafted in a factory somewhat local to them. We have had the pleasure of a tour of the Flimby factory in Cumbria, England and have seen the level of expertise shown by the local people. The factory also supports the core values of British quality and the long heritage of the brand. Another huge and sometimes overlooked facet of New Balance is that the shoes sell themselves. How many times have you seen a New Balance advertisement on television or in a magazine? They let the products do the talking.
What style of New Balance sells best at your retail location?
We have done particularly well with the 574, 576 and 1500 over the past few seasons. This season we have introduced models such as the 710, 996 and Trailbusters to give a bit of diversity to the range. Whilst not selling as well as the other styles, they are proving popular in certain circles.
How do you feel about the number of New Balances that are being released?
The sneaker market is an increasingly competitive business to be involved with and New Balance has been producing a vast array of different styles and colourways. As the brand is increasingly appealing to new customers it is expanding its catalogue of products to meet the demand as well as offer fresh options to its current customer base. Not everyone wants to pay the extra for a Made in USA or Made in England pair, whilst others are happy to pay it as a collector of sneakers or simply want that feeling of luxuriousness. Some people aren’t comfortable with having a ‘chunkier’ sneaker such as the 574 or 576 and might opt for a more slim-line option. Die-hard fans of New Balance might not necessarily be happy with the influx of new styles but we see it as a necessary bi-product of an increase of the brands popularity.
Any last thoughts or comments on New Balance you want to leave us with?
Firstly thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions. We like to think that New Balance will be with us for the foreseeable future and will continue to support the brand in-store and online. If any of your readers ever want any further information on any of the New Balance products that we sell, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will try and help as much as we can.