Hype in the streetwear world can be gained or lost at an incredibly rapid pace, but Aimé Leon Dore and New Balance have sustained demand for their sneakers throughout their numerous collaborations. Three years after their debut design, the duo has introduced two autumnal takes on the chunky 991 sneaker. One dresses its upper panels in burnt orange leather while the other flaunts a more neutral gray suede.
New Balance and Aimé Leon Dore initially teased the two pairs in March through the latter’s Spring/Summer ‘22 lookbook. Other projects from the two, including additional versions of their 650s and a “Made in USA” 990v2, were also featured in the lookbook. The 991s served as the highlight of all the offerings, however, and were modeled by Andreas Makaris, a legendary fifth-generation potter from Athens, Greece. Aimé Leon Dore has yet to reveal why it chose to showcase Makaris in its collaboration, although his presence alludes to a deeper meaning in the sneaker’s design.
Tastefully retro — The first 991 keeps its look minimal, subtly contrasting its cream mesh base with gray suede overlays and hits of dark olive leather. Retro “N” branding, done up in the same green shade, is outlined by reflective 3M material, while both labels’ logos appear on the tongue and heels alongside 991 branding. Underfoot, the shoe’s hefty midsole sees gray tones at the forefront as its cream backside is accented by a pop of olive. A black treaded outsole, also bearing bursts of green, completes the simple sneaker.
Autumnal shades of burnt orange and olive green dress the other 991, which arrives with a smooth leather upper. Hits of gray suede make an appearance at the tongue and collar to marry the sneaker with its counterpart, while dark green decorates a few leather panels throughout the upper. The shoe’s midsole sticks to cream and gray shades to match the cream mesh above as olive makes its final appearance on the grippy black outsole.
Both sneakers feature interior tags claiming the pairs were “Made in UK,” a staple of craftsmanship New Balance is known for. A class-action lawsuit challenged that statement last year, however, alleging the brand “knowingly [made] misrepresentations” because shoppers were willing to pay more for products they believed were made in the United States or the United Kingdom. New Balance has since said at least 70 percent of its individual products are made domestically, meaning its “Made in USA” and “Made in UK” labels are technically valid by Federal Trade Commission regulations.
Quick, call 991 — As resale prices show, those after the brand’s Aimé Leon Dore sneakers are willing to pay absurd amounts for a pair regardless of its origin. The 991 already cost $275 at retail value, and those unfortunate enough to miss out on their drop — a raffle is currently open on ALD’s website — could be paying double or triple that price for the sneaker. If you don’t score on this release, New Balance and Aimé Leon Dore will have plenty more offerings this year — granted you can cop any of those either.