New Balance's U.S.-Made 993s Should Be the Foundation of Your Sneaker Rotation
At the ripe age of 31, I never thought I'd be looking for a walking shoe. And yet, as the pandemic snatched away the only resemblance of a fitness routine I had (living and commuting in New York City), the post-work walk was suddenly an activity for which I needed to outfit myself. Nepotism Alert: I found myself clicking on Esquire's list of the best walking shoes out there right now. Lo and behold, I found a pair that'd functionally satisfy my new "workout," and work with just about anything in my wardrobe. It was New Balance's made-in-the-USA 993, and here's why—whether long walks are your cup of tea or not—it's the right sneaker to ground your entire rotation.
If the sleeker, larger "N" logos on newer models don’t work for you, the 993’s classic shape should make you very happy
It's light and cozy, but also sturdy.
The first thing that surprised me about the 993 was that it didn't feel like a brick. The look is substantial, but lifting it out of the box, you can instantly feel the relative lightness of the well-cushioned upper juxtaposed with the sturdiness of the sole. Nice to know I wouldn't be dragging my feet up Atlantic Avenue every evening. Equally nice to know I wouldn't be without some support underfoot. Cozying into these 993s is like stepping into a cloud adhered to rubber soles. My low-key favorite element of the comfort is the extra cushion in the tongue. Remember DC skate shoes in the late '90s? The 993's got a similar pillow-like tongue, though thankfully a bit toned down. A nice bit of character to this otherwise straightforward silhouette.
In case you forgot where it’s made.
Versatility stays winning.
OK so, you know the 993 is good for walks. But you know what else it's good for? Everything else. I wear mine to the golf course before I change into my spikes. I wear them out to al fresco dinners with jeans and an oxford cloth button-down. I'd wear them to the gym, if I went to the gym. I'll wear them to work when that commute finally returns. And I'll wear them to parties when that second vax hits me, too.
A substantial sole grounds things—literally and figuratively.
It will never—ever—go out of style.
It's no secret that New Balance's many silhouettes have staying power. Sure, some things have changed in the 75 years since the brand's been making kicks. But not a ton! The 993 looks like it could have been introduced in the '90s, or even the '80s. In reality, it made its debut in 2008. I don't know about you, but I can't think of an element of my personal style that's sustained since then (I was 19, to be fair). Still, the 993 would have worked with just about every fit I've cheffed up in the 13 intervening years.
Investing in a shoe like this is a sure thing, because even as the sneaker world continues to evolve, there will always be a place for it. Sure, I might not be rocking my 993s with the same fits after having a couple kids and moving to the suburbs. But damn are they going to look right when I'm grilling for the family or walking the dog. I'm seeing jean shorts in my head all of a sudden. Time to log off.
Photography and prop styling by Allie Holloway & Timothy Mulcare.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.