This is not a New Balance 990v5 performance review, a running review, or even a professional review. It’s a New Balance hater’s review. Fair warning.
This review was written by Michael Walker. He’s a sneaker addict, CPA, and pastor who’s been following WearTesters since 2017. With his wife, you can find him doing comedy and motivation on TikTok as @pastormike901 or on Instagram as pastormike901.
Recently, Chris (Nightwing2303 of WearTesters fame) published his video review of the New Balance 993. He labeled it his first pair, he remarked on the quality, he pointed out that it proudly displays its credentials such as “Made in the U.S.A.” – all of which are valid points. And he also called it a grandpa shoe.
Like Chris, I’m an avid fan of Nike and Jordan and on the rare occasion when my sneaker addiction must be satisfied and desired Nike and Jordan releases are unobtainable, I have ventured into other brands. By other brands, I mean Adidas and Reebok. Never New Balance. You see, like Chris, my love of sneakers was born in the 1990s during the meteoric rise of Nike and the formation of Jordan Brand. New Balance was simply, as Chris pointed out, a grandpa shoe. I cannot get over that association.
As a fan of WearTesters, I joined their Discord community as a gold member back in early 2020. At the time, all of us hardcore WT fans in the community focused almost exclusively on how to cop desired retro Jordan releases. However, in recent months I’ve noticed a growing and most disturbing trend among the younger members of this Discord community – a love of New Balance. More than once, I’ve heard the New Balance 990 lauded and applauded as a highly desired shoe. Yes, it was as shocking then as it is now.
The “dad shoe” craze has been going strong for many years. Yeezys are labeled as dad shoes, New Balance definitely fits the bill, but even Nike and Jordan Brand have ventured into this arena. Nike with the retiree-focused and perennially bestselling Air Monarch, and Jordan with such lines as the Delta.
When Chris reviewed the New Balance 993, I was shocked and somewhat disappointed. He allowed these younger troublemakers on Discord to sway him to consider New Balance once again. Somehow, their swaying of Chris may have likewise swayed me… somewhat. Enough that I decided to see what all this fuss amongst the young folks was about. So I traveled to the Memphis New Balance store in an attempt to acquire the recommended New Balance 990, in whatever “v” it was available.
Shock Upon Shock
In addition to the shock of my actual quest to purchase a New Balance shoe, I experienced a greater shock upon entering the Memphis New Balance store. The shoes were actually available on the shelf! As a Nike and Jordan aficionado, I realized at once this must be some trick. Why, these must only be display models – for surely my size can’t be available. Nike has trained me well in this regard.
New Balance, it seems, does not follow Nike’s tried and tested business model, however, because lo and behold, after a knowledgeable associate measured my foot (a true 11 US men’s, between D and E width) and recommended either an 11.5 or 12 US men’s, he simply walked to the back and returned with the desired shoe in my recommended size! Not only that – he applied a small discount for my first purchase. New Balance, it seems, cares about its customers. I don’t know how to process this information.
Get to the Point
Given that I now own a pair of New Balance 990v5 in grey and white (or as I call them, the old man’s Cool Greys), I figured that I may as well wear them. Lucky you, I shall tell you about it.
I have now worn the New Balance 990v5 for about four hours. This clearly qualifies me to provide a review. I shall attempt to be fair and, dare I say, “balanced” herein.
- Instant step-in comfort, as expected, but not so much as to be unstable
- Stability, both from a cushion standpoint, as well as the rubber compound and traction on the outsole
- Holy cow, there is actual suede on these dad boys…
- Attainability, I was able to actually walk into a New Balance store and purchase the product (Editor’s Note: it’s insane this is a real pro in today’s sneaker industry)
- Made in the U.S.A.
- There is a giant “N” on both the lateral and medial sides of the shoe, an instant turn off
- In an office environment, the wearer faces the constant fear of ridicule at any given moment
- The toe box is quite roomy, maybe a “pro” for some people, but I should have gone down a half-size…wait, didn’t Chris say that in his review? (Editor’s Note: always listen to Chris)
- Nike has trained me to enjoy poor QC, and I don’t know how to handle these beauties (Editor’s Note: this does not qualify as a “con”)
- I now fear walking into my own home and my wife seeing these on my feet (Editor’s Note: please film this for your TikTok)
- Price, why pay $180+ for excellently built shoes when you can spend $225 on a poorly constructed Jordan retro? (Editor’s Note: we really need to work on your definition of “con”)
New Balance 990v5 Summary
The New Balance 990v5 is well-built with quality materials and construction. It’s comfortable while stable, a good…balance (ba-dum ching!). It’s attainable, and apparently a growing crowd of younger sneakerheads like them.
But the most important thing to remember about New Balance is this: your grandpa is guaranteed to be envious.
Luckily the WearTesters Discord has a Trades channel…😉