New Balance's "Undyed" 327 Is a Champion of Sustainable Design
An interview with the design team behind the new 327 model.
This new 327 rendition is a fresh take on the ’70s revival trend as well as a reminder of the importance of a sustainable world and future. Having previously dropped the sustainable Vision Racer shoe and a collaborative collection with fashion-label Reformation, the “Undyed” 327 is the first of its kind for the brand, arriving without any pigmentation or coloration, saving water, energy and waste in the production process.
We spoke to Charlotte Lee and Alex Carlson from the New Balance Design Team to give our readers a better insight into what design processes and sources of inspiration helped create the “Undyed” runner. Scroll down to read the interview below.
HYPEBAE: Talk us through the sustainable design and creation process of the “Undyed” sneakers.
NB Design Team: Looking at the vibrancy of colour used in running product from the ’70s this led me to think about the impact intense dying processes have on the environment. ‘Can a colour-less colour-way be created?’ was a question I asked myself and the result was the “Undyed” pack. The colours you see are a celebration of materials in their natural color; The suede is in its undyed form of wet-blue, giving it a bluish tint, and the cotton textile and laces are undyed and in its natural cream colour. While this un-dyed application means less water, energy and waste it celebrates materials in their natural colour and highlights the importance of creating a more sustainable future.
Why has New Balance chosen to place a lens on sustainability in fashion, specifically in the design and manufacturing processes behind the 327 model?
One of the best things we can do is to design footwear in a way that reduces the impact before we even begin. We are constantly pushing ourselves to think more responsibly when it comes to materials and this was the perfect opportunity.
The 327 is a great example of a design that reduces the number of parts in the shoe and allows for uncomplicated materials as with un-dyed. Choosing better materials is a big focus across product, whether that’s regenerative cellulosic textiles, better leather-like chrome-free chemistry or sourcing from LWG-rated tanneries, or using materials with high recycled content. I think having the passion to learn about sustainability and to make the right design choices is a huge part of it; our designers are excited about innovations and materials that can reduce impact and it’s exciting to see it come to life with projects like “Undyed” and the Vision Racer.
What materials were used to create this undyed colourway?
The “Undyed” 327 is mainly made using natural cotton fibre, meaning the cotton is spun into yarn and woven into canvas/binding with no added colour. This technique was also used on the laces, which is where the cotton was knitted into laces retaining the natural cream colour of the fibre. The cow suede is in its undyed form of wet-blue, giving it a bluish tint, sliced natural cork is inserted on the insole and the rubber sole has no added colour pigment.
How were the manufacturing processes used to create this model different from other 327s?
The “Undyed” style is an is a stripped-back version of the 327, celebrating natural materials in their un-dyed state. Every aspect of the silhouette is left “undyed” with no pigmentation or coloration added. While this un-dyed application means less water, energy and waste compared to their coloured counterparts, the process ultimately celebrates materials in their natural state. The Undyed 327 is a contemporary silhouette that highlights the importance of creating a more sustainable future.
The undyed colourway is much more toned down than other 327 colourways. What are New Balance’s plans with regards to releasing more muted colourways of this silhouette later this year?
We’ve still got lots more to come with the 327 this year and there are more muted colourways releasing for when you’re not trying to be so bold with your footwear choice. It’s a really wearable shoe that lends itself well to both bright colours and more muted tones. We have also been playing around with pops of bright colour on a muted colourway to create a balance of both. Much like the 327 is a balance of old and new, the colourways are a mixture of striking and muted.
Head to New Balance’s website today to shop the “Undyed” 327 model.