FEATURE 10 New Balance M992WT for WTAPS® Olive drab and gray weave
the collaboration between WTAPS® and New Balance

This spring, a reissue of the M992, a shoe originally released in 2006 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of New Balance, will be released newly as the WTAPS® collaboration model M992WT. This is a special edition, made in USA model, that expresses the image of each brand in olive drab and gray. The below is a comprehensive report on how this project started, down to the details of the collaboration, by Tetsuya Shono of New Balance who initiated this project, and Tetsu Nishiyama of WTAPS®.

An unexpected collaboration between WTAPS® and New Balance

Nishiyama (N from this point forward) “Actually, I had made several proposals to New Balance before, and none led to anything back then, but this time it was the opposite where I received an offer from New Balance, and so this project started in 2018.”
Shono (S from this point forward) “There was a proposal that came about in-house to make something together with a Japanese brand based on the M992 which was to be reissued for the first time since the original was released in 2006, and WTAPS was the first name mentioned. Personally, I have been a fan since the days of FORTY PERCENT AGAINST RIGHTS® (predecessor of WTAPS®), and the image I have of the brand is how it shares its world view with its customers by being very particular with their store’s interior and packaging, as well as of course the graphics and design.”
N “My entrance into New Balances were brown leather M576s that I wore in high school, and as a more familiar everyday kind of shoe, I would say from when my child was born in 2014. Especially the M998s have become a standard for the Nishiyama family; my wife and I have kept buying and wearing them as they become used and worn by playing in the park with the kids. That is why when speaking of New Balance, I have an image of how they blend well with the daily life, footwear that can be worn with the family.”
S “At first, I felt there was a gap between the image of WTAPS and New Balance, but I had seen New Balances used in visuals for WTAPS, and also you wearing New Balances in the magazines, so I thought of how now was the only time to be able to pull off such a new challenge; a collaboration with WTAPS.”

About the M992 that has been engraved in the history of New Balance

S “The M992 is the 9th generation model of the 900 series, one of New Balance’s flagships, and was released in 2006 as a model to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the brand. Despite being an era of technological competition between companies, we followed the 900 series theory of evolving without changing much of the design, inheriting and maintaining traditional styling. But, for the first time for the 900 series, we used the shock absorbent material called SBS ABZORB for the midsole that improved cushioning and durability. This 2020 model which is the first reproduction of the M992, a model that is special to New Balance, faithfully reproduces the original silhouette.”

The color and details of the exclusive WTAPS® M992WT

N “I thought that if it was done up in olive drab from the upper all the way to the sole, the image of WTAPS would be too in-your-face, so it was finished where the whole shoe was in a gradation based on New Balance’s refined gray, blended with olive drab. For an accent color, I used orange for the midsole, which is an identity color for WTAPS, and combined teal for the outsole. In other words, I tried my best at designing this so it would not taint the refined image of New Balance (laugh).”
S “The texture of the embossed tongue and heel part are details that have been taken from the M998 that you have been wearing. When you were going through the archives at the meeting, you were enthusiastically observing and taking photos of details of the M998; the M992WT features such subtle accents.”
N “Also, the request of adding the WTAPS brand logo was something I thought that would be difficult to pull off, but became a reality. The brand logo woven into the heel panel is something symbolic for this collaboration.”
S “Having something other than our own branding on the shoe body is an extremely rare case of rare cases, but we were able to actualize this as a global project.”

Looking back at the collaboration between WTAPS® and New Balance

N “I felt something like a made in USA vibe in the completed sample. It was difficult to imagine the entire color scheme in my head because of the large number of parts and complicated panels that are features of the M992. The feeling of designing, by going at it to see how it will end up, was interesting in an experimental kind of sense.”
S “In addition to being a collaboration between an unusual combination of New Balance and WTAPS, it was also a huge challenge being set on making it an American made product. It took a long time to get samples made at the American factory, so I think you might have felt worried and anxious during the long wait. The process of translating the color instructions created by you, and weaving in the blur based on my experience, was a task you could call tough to do, but more than that, this was a rewarding and enjoyable project for me.”
N “This was a new challenge for me as well. I also felt the difficulty of collaborating where you reach the goal by making use of each other’s branding, but I think the gradation pattern from olive drab to gray expresses the WTAPS-likeness without damaging the refined character of New Balance. I can’t wait for the release date.”
Tetsuya Shono New Balance Japan Global Business Unit Director in charge of Trend and Energy
Born in 1972. Dedicated his youth to soccer after watching “Captain Tsubasa.” Has known New Balance shoes for 22 years. In charge of the development of technical footwear in the past such as the MRT and MRL series equipped with REVLITE (a superior lightweight shock absorbing material), along with many successive collaborations, and also lead the development of the fully reproduced-in-the-USA Japan market M1300JP series. His brilliant career speaks for his true depth of knowledge regarding sneakers.
201NBNBD-FW01S / M992WT / GRAY / ¥39,600

5/1/2020 (FRI) 12:00PM Japan Standard Time

DEALERS *Due to demand, it may be difficult to reach stores accepting phone orders on the release date. Thank you for your understanding
*Release dates for RON HERMAN, UNITED ARROWS AND SONS are TBC. A release date will be notified via each store’s website and/ or sns.
*For details regarding UNION TOKYO’s online raffle please visit their website.
videograph: Tsutomu Murofushi
photograph: Tomohiko “Thomas” Tagawa 
text: Nobukazu Kishi 
cooperation: New Balance Japan Inc.