New Balance’s hyped 550 sneaker returns in a ‘Panda’ makeup

The vintage-inspired basketball model has its palette inverted.

New Balance "Panda" black and white 550 sneaker
New Balance

New Balance’s vintage-inspired 550 sneaker has become one of this year’s most coveted shoes. Since being reintroduced by the streetwear brand in 2020, the shoe has become nearly impossible to obtain because of increasing demand and subsequent resale prices. Multiple makeovers from Aimé Leon Dore have spearheaded the hype, one of which resulted in the NYPD shutting down an in-store lineup to control commotion.

The appeal of the New Balance model rivals that of Nike’s own low-top basketball sneaker, the Dunk — and that’s not where the resemblance stops. Only a few months after Nike re-released the Dunk in a black and white palette, New Balance has decked its own shoe in the same shades. The similarity between the sneakers, however, is most likely a mere coincidence — black and white silhouettes are always favored by shoppers thanks to their simplicity.

Retro runners — Dark shades cover most of the 550, an uncharacteristic but welcome look for spring. The updated sneaker features black accents where it would usually bear white ones — and vice versa — for a reversed “Panda” palette. Signature details like a faux-aged midsole, retro branding, and tri-tone outsole remain to upkeep New Balance’s heritage.

Aimé Leon Dore’s 550 collaborations, as well as following versions of the shoe, have focused on its vintage look — a theme the upcoming 550 continues. Details like pebbled leather branding, aged basketball tongue tags, and perforations throughout the upper recall the sneaker’s original ‘80s look. White leather overlays by the collar contrast its underlying black mesh, a material which also appears on the tongue to give the lifestyle shoe an athletic feel.

New Balance
Retro branding sits on the tongue as even more branding hits the insoles. New Balance
New Balance

A slew of branding modernizes the 550: New Balance’s current logo and namesake appears debossed on the midsole as another logo graces the heel. Retro branding embellishes the tongue and sides, while a “550” graphic sits by lateral eyelets. Black laces, a yellowed midsole, and a black, gray, and aged white outsole round out the sneaker.

It’s not always black and white — New Balance’s “Panda” 550 sneaker is set to release in the coming months at New Balance’s website, with an estimated retail price of $110. With both consumers and resellers fiending after the shoe, pairs are guaranteed to fly fast, although additional color schemes of the silhouette are expected later this year — granted you can cop those either.

In line with its basketball roots, the 550 sneaker features non-marking outsoles. New Balance