FEATURE 19 WTAPSxNEW BALANCE 990v2 ーFusion of eternity, which manufacturers have been maintaining,
and personality which fashion brands have been propagatingー

Hi Joe,
I’m happy to collaborate with New Balance for this time as well.
WTAPS has been shooting its campaign visuals by Akio Hasegawa, coordinating with New Balance footwear since several years ago.

I think that the simplicity of the WTAPS brand and the universality created by New Balance are well harmonized by coordination and situations, and the urban mood unique to Tokyo is well expressed.

Among them, the ones called 900 series and the 1300-1500 series models were often used.
In fact, these models had an authentic yet fresh impression to me.
This is the second collaboration, last time was 992, and this time is 990v2.

Can you tell us what the 990 model means to NB and why you chose to collaborate with WTAPS this time?
Hope all is well in Tokyo. Hoping we can come visit soon when the COVID situation gets better. There is no city in the world that I miss more!

We are very excited to launch this second collaboration. After the success of the 992 program last year, we know there are consumers worldwide waiting for the next chapter of NB x WTAPS.

We consider the 990 the most important and iconic franchise within the New Balance archive. This franchise began with the 990v1 in 1982, after four years of design and development, with a grey-dominant colorway and a $100 price point, both of which were unprecedented in the running industry at the time. As you know, the grey coloring has since become a key component to New Balance’s identity. The simple approach to the color grey allows NB to focus on the quality and functionality of our product while simultaneously speaking to a diverse range of consumers. The neutral tones allow the 990 to be a timeless and versatile fashion staple that transcends consumer-types or age groups.

In 2022, we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 990 so we chose to collaborate on all of the heritage versions of the model with some of our best collaborative partners across the globe leading up to this anniversary. Since New Balance has such a long history with Japan, we thought it made sense to tell this story with WTAPS, our most prominent Japanese collaborative partner. Knowing that WTAPS has a similar relationship with the color grey, the pairing of NB x WTAPS to the 990 franchise made complete sense.

Look forward to rolling out this project with you and the team. Thanks,
TET I’m happy if you could say so.

This time as well, I thought about as WTAPS how to get close to 990v2, the greatest model of NB heritage.

After all, NB coloring is the part that I personally like the most, so I focused on the color detail both last time and this time.
While the color detail of NB is particularly attractive because of its grey gradation, I wanted to take special care about it.

I also paid an attention to the impression of the grey tone of the upper and the color scheme of the parts, to finish its impression well-balanced, as not too strong but also not too weak.

I wanted to make it in such a design that It blends into the outfit rather than eccentric, yet casually eye-catching.
JOE I love this design because it’s a sneaker that can be worn in many different scenarios. It can be dressed up with a more formal outfit but also could be worn with gym shorts and a t-shirt.
I also love how it pays homage to the grey coloring that both New Balance and WTAPS are known for with just enough unique detailing to stand out.
The utilization of the “basketball-textured” synthetic material on the tongue, collar strap, and heel tab (originally from the classic 998) is a nice touch.

I often find myself trying to decide which 990 version I like best: the v2 or v3.
I really like the v2 because it made a pretty big departure from the v1 design as it incorporated many more upper pieces and introduced the forefoot underlay pieces, which have become an iconic design element on many New Balance models that are popular today.
Also, the addition of the ABZORB midsole made this shoe much more comfortable than its predecessor.

Since you have collaborated with New Balance, have you noticed any impact to the WTAPS brand and culture?
TET Well, last time was the first collaboration with NB,
First of all, I feel the love for NB from Mr.Tetsuya and all the staff involved, including you.
After all, I was able to objectively think that a brand can be communicated to the outside only if the people involved in it loves it.
Our brand’s culture behind it are different from those of NB, but we try to take good care of the eyes we have cultivated there and make the most of them to strengthen our brand’s power.

However, if I say this, hope it won’t be a misleading for you, recently I think that the history we have been walking is like the flow of a river, it does not show the same shape retroactively, it has still not been matured yet.
Therefore, I think it is very important to do what we are doing now so that we will not be trapped in the past, and to do our best and praise each other with everyone involved in the brand at this moment.

I think the essential thing is to move toward the goals we have set, not to be aware of what you see or be seen in unrelated places.
I’d like to evaluate that we are working toward the goals which we’ve set together.
JOE I’m glad you have a positive feeling towards everyone who has worked on this project from the New Balance side.

We take a lot of pride in building long-term partnerships like this one.
I also think there is a lot of opportunity for future NB x WTAPS collaboration projects to explore different types of silhouettes and categories.

I am looking forward to continuing this journey with you and your team.
Hope to see you in Tokyo once the pandemic has calmed down as we are able to travel internationally again. Stay safe.