New Balance is turning its hit 2002R sneaker into a mule

A wonderfully weird sneaker-mule hybrid.

New Balance 2002R sneaker mule
Modern Notoriety

Regardless of how you feel about mules and clogs, they’re not going anywhere. Casual slip-on footwear is continuing to have a major moment and one to which New Balance looks to contribute with a sliced and diced version of its 2002R sneaker.

Based on an early preview from Modern Notoriety, the mule’s wonky shape maintains much of the original sneaker’s genetic makeup. An N-ERGY shock-absorbing sole unit still makes up the shoe’s undercarriage complete with ABZORB cushioning for added comfort. The shoe laces and tongue are gone, and in their place is a wider, perforated panel with the usual branding.

Two neutral color options are of the 2002R mule are reportedly on the way, consisting primarily of either light grey or light beige.

Modern Notoriety
Modern Notoriety

Comfort over everything — Multiple brands have joined in on the backless shoe trend, be it a clog or a mule, which has been driven in part by the pandemic and part because they’re great for a quick errand. Crocs and Birkenstock have earned their place at the top of the pyramid, though BEAMS x Reebok, Vans, Adidas, and Converse have all contributed worthy opponents as well.

New Balance has gotten pretty experimental with mule silhouettes in the past, many of which are scattered throughout the secondary market. It’s also dabbled in other types of reconstructions that combined its American sneaker heritage with modernized perspectives. Two of NB’s most notable presentations have come out if its semi-regular Snow Peak collaboration, consisting of the three-in-one sneaker-boot/mule/slipper and a simpler sandal and mule hybrid.

If you’re looking for a 2002R in its full form, New Balance has several releases for the sneaker on the way. A Joe Freshgoods collaboration and extension of the beloved “Protection Pack” are both coming soon, the latter of which has been confirmed for an April 1 release. There’s no word yet on when the mules will come, but stay tuned for more info.