You may not think your dad or husband have much in common with today's most fashionable celebrities, but we can think of one trait they might share — their love for New Balance sneakers. It's a fact that the brand highlighted in its 2019 ad campaign for the 990v5 sneaker, which included the slogan: "Worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio."
Since then, their universal appeal has only grown — New Balance has become one of the most in-demand sneaker brands of the moment. According to Google trends, search interest in the brand reached an all-time high in April 2023.
So what exactly makes New Balance shoes so beloved? "They’re really for everybody," stylist Stacee Michelle tells Shop TODAY. "We’ve seen over the past 100 years, everyone from the president to NBA superstars and celebrities wearing the sneakers."
Originally founded in 1906, the sneaker brand has become well-known for creating shoes that put comfort and performance first, making them a top choice among athletes, casual sneaker wearers and, of course, dads. But a number of high-profile collaborations with fashion companies like Miu Miu and Stüssy have also cemented New Balance as a must-have sneaker brand among fashion and trend-savvy consumers.
To find out what exactly makes them so popular, as well as the best styles to shop, we consulted with Michelle and Dr. Miguel Cunha, podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City. Here is everything you need to know about the beloved footwear brand, including information on its latest sneaker.
Are New Balance sneakers good for your feet? | Best New Balance sneakers for women, according to experts and Shop TODAY | More bestselling New Balance sneakers for women | How to style New Balance sneakers | How we chose | Meet our experts
Are New Balance sneakers good for your feet?
No one wants to wear an uncomfortable sneaker. And a large portion of New Balance's popularity stems from the fact that they actually feel good on your feet. Cunha says that New Balance is one of the brands he most commonly recommends to patients because of their design.
"Typically their shoes are designed with engineered footbeds that are great for arch support, comfort and stability," he says. The footbeds tend to be well-cushioned for comfort and provide anatomical arch support, which he notes can "help minimize fatigue and pain, not only for your feet but your ankles, your knees and your back." They also have a deep heel cup that allows your heel to sit firmly inside the shoes instead of riding up the back as you walk or run, which can help prevent blisters.
But that's not all. Cunha says that the middle of the shoe has a rigid shank, which keeps it from bending in an area where your foot wouldn't naturally bend. The shoes also tend to have a wide toe box, which not only gives it the classic bulky "dad shoe" look, but also lets your toes move freely without restrictions and minimizes discomfort on your forefoot.
"These shoes are also biomechanically engineered with a structured saddle, synthetic upper, cushioned collar and flexible and durable rubber sole which will help provide maximal shock absorption properties and cushioning to maximize motion control," he says.
Best New Balance sneakers for women, according to experts and Shop TODAY staffers
According to New Balance, if the brand only “made one running shoe, it would be the Fresh Foam X 1080,” and as soon as I slipped it on I could understand why. I’m currently training to run the New York City marathon with New Balance, and the brand sent me some of its shoes to try in the process, and these were an early favorite. The lightweight shoes feature a Fresh Foam X midsole that delivers that soft, cloud-like feel that you want from an everyday sneaker.
When I’m going on runs that I know will take me into double digit mileage, I prefer something that’s a little more technical and propulsive. But for shorter, slower runs, anywhere between two to eight miles, these have been my go-to. They’re also the shoes that I’ve been reaching for when I have to be standing or walking a lot in the days following long runs, to help my tired feet and legs recover. As I’m walking around, I feel less impact with each step, thanks to the ultra-soft cushioning.
“As one of the most popular running shoes New Balance has to offer, we wanted to improve the overall experience, cushioning, and style. Through these innovations, we made the Fresh Foam X 1080v13 the perfect shoe for all types of runners,” Danny Orr, general manager for tech running at New Balance shared in a statement.
Cunha says that the 574v2 is the New Balance shoe that he recommends most often. "The shoe is highly durable, it's highly flexible, it's lightweight, extremely comfortable, [has a] superior arch, has soft shock-absorbing cushioning on the footbed to relieve pain and it has a cool vintage-y classic old school look but is still modern."
Shop TODAY commerce deals coordinator Victoria Herlocker recently bought a pair and says that she loves how versatile they are. "I can wear them casually with jeans, in the office with a pair of wide-leg pants or on a walk!"
Cunha also recommends the New Balance 997H Sneakers, which feature a suede and mesh upper and color-blocked design. According to the brand, the shoes deliver comfort with every step thanks to the lightweight cushioning.
Shop TODAY deals editor Rebecca Brown owns the shoes and says they are "amazing" for walking. She added that it's the only pair she'll wear on her annual family theme park visit, "because it does double duty (feels good and looks good)."
Michelle likes retro-inspired 327 sneakers. "They’re not as chunky as some of the traditional dad sneakers, so [they're] a little bit more streamlined — which is what I like — but it still gives you that sneaker look," she says.
Shop TODAY production coordinator Jill Ortiz is also a fan of the style. She describes the shoes as "cute" and "comfy" and added that they can even be worn to the office. "I can wear them with jeans and a blazer and I feel nice," she says.
Another pick from Cunha, the 990v5 sneakers are said to blend performance and style. Available in multiple colors, the company says that they're a "staple of both morning runs and fashion runways."
For longer marathon training runs, I’ve been loving the SuperComp Trainers. With their Energy Arc technology, cushioning and a propulsive feel, the shoes check basically every box for what I would look for in a long distance running sneaker. The upper is made from a breathable, see-through mesh, which is great because it allows plenty of airflow for those of us with sweaty feet. One thing to note is that if you’re not used to chunky-soled performance running shoes, the height may take a little getting used to. But for the extra comfort, I’d say it’s worth it.
More bestselling New Balance sneakers for women
The New Balance 2002R was inspired by 2000s-era models, according to the brand. It features an ABZORB midsole, designed to absorb impact through a combination of cushioning and compression resistance, as well as heel cushioning and arch support.
Shop TODAY partnerships editorial assistant Erica Marrison loves the 2002R for their shape and texture. "I'm obsessed with Copenhagen fashion and I often see photos of Danish women in grey New Balance sneakers like these. I'd pair them with wide-leg dark denim and an oversized T-shirt, turtleneck or blazer depending on the season."
Perfect for everything from workouts to morning commutes, these shoes are designed to be comfortable and responsive. They come in a range of colors and both regular and wide sizes, so you're bound to find a pair that will suit your personal preferences.
Made for walking, this sneaker is said to feature motion control, stability and cushioning to make each step feel as comfortable as possible.
New Balance calls this shoe "a versatile women's shoe you can wear anywhere." Featuring a cushioned midsole that molds to your foot, the brand also says the sneakers can be worn for your morning walks, day-to-day errands and running.
Associate editor Shannon Garlin recently bought these for both running and walking and says they deliver, "I usually do a mix of running and walking a couple of times a week, and these sneakers are perfect for both. They're really lightweight and my arches feel supported the entire time."
New Balance has brought back its popular OG Fresh Foam Cruz v1 for a limited time. The fan-favorite is said to deliver all-day comfort and cushioning. According to the brand, they run large, so it’s recommended that you order in a half-size up.
If you're looking for a cute and comfortable shoe you can wear every day, this dad-esque sneaker has over 22,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. "Love these sneakers. I wear them for running errands, working out at the gym, taking walks in the park, working at the veterinary clinic. They offer good support for me without rubbing," wrote one verified reviewer.
How to style New Balance sneakers
Aside from their benefits for your feet, some people would argue that New Balance sneakers are pretty stylish, too. Their current popularity is likely, in part, thanks to the growing trendiness of wider pant styles. Dad sneakers like these are a great choice to pair with wide-leg or baggy trousers since they allow you to keep “the scale the same all the way down,” Michelle says.
Another way to style the sneakers? Pairing them with an oversized jacket. “You’ll see a lot of celebrities wearing a topcoat with a slim bottom and the sneakers,” she adds. It can be a trench coat or a jacket that goes past your knees, but she says that the look is “really clean and sleek.”
You can also try pairing them with something unexpected, like a dress or skirt. “We’ve seen a lot of this trend at fashion week and with street style, where people are wearing coordinated blazer and skirt sets with a pair of New Balance sneakers,” Michelle says. “Or they’re wearing a slip dress with a pair of New Balance sneakers and maybe something underneath, whether it’s a turtleneck or a jacket. So there are ways to elevate it from the ankle up, but still keep it cool and casual down below.”
With so many styling options, the shoes are a versatile staple that anyone can pull off. “It’s great when you can have that crossover of a sneaker that you can wear to the gym but then also throw on with a great pair of jeans, a jacket and head out the door or a blazer and a skirt,” Michelle says. “Versatility is important in your wardrobe, so I definitely always encourage that to clients when looking for new pieces to include.”
How we chose
We selected sneakers that feature arch support, propulsive design and comfortable construction — as well as a stylish look. To choose our favorites, we followed the recommendations of experts and Shop TODAY editors.