New Balance sneakers attributed to the Tokyo Design Studio are designed by a collective headquartered in Japan. A team of creatives in Tokyo, Taiwan and Boston combine cultures and influences with American-born footwear silhouettes. The resulting styles are innovative and often vastly different than products found in retailers stateside
Altogether, the shoes are representative of the larger company's newfound commitments to collaboration and innovation. The energy the Tokyo Design Studio team — specifically creative design manager Shugo Moritani — brought to the Boston-based company, we'd argue, forged a path forward in several fledgling, albeit foundational, categories (basketball, streetwear and retail).
Typically, the US-based team offers designers and influential figures the opportunity to collaborate on unique color ways, interesting materials or patterns and, in the sole case of Jaden Smith, entirely new silhouettes. (Though newly appointed Creative Director of New Balance Made in USA Teddy Santis is surely next.) As such, the iterations done by the TDS are more limited in quantity but less limited in creative liberties taken.
That being said, they're still rooted in a rigorous set of design principles — Precision, Nature Tech, Sports Craft, Protection — but are aimed at improving the wearer's everyday life. On his design process, Moritani-san tells Sabukaru, "It starts from daily life and is completed by daily life. It’s a simple process actually, 'How can I improve our lifestyle?'"
For the 574 by TDS, the most notable design decisions are the removal of the embossed "N" logos on both the medial and lateral sides, the reduction of any typeface logo to the TPU heel clip and the addition of a Vibram ripple sole. The latter evokes outdoor gear and more aggressive, functional apparel, but the shoe's overall tone proves softer and more vintage. (It references an early NB sneaker called the Trackster.)
The toe is rounder, the footprint less curvaceous and the exterior less "puffy." Constructed with a welted sole, lightweight EVA foam cushion in the midsole and heel, the aforementioned TPU heel clip, an upper comprising pig suede overlays, mesh underlays and reflective accents, the shoes are completed with cotton laces and an embossed suede tag — final touches from a design team that clearly emphasizes process and presentation.