First off, where is Craig Bowen? Well, to those who may not know who Craig Bowen is, he’s the head honcho at New Balance South Africa. Nevertheless, you can be forgiven for not knowing him or coming across his name to begin with since he hasn’t given us, New Balance fans in South Africa, anything to remember him by.
New Balance SA is Tone deaf
Sadly, New Balance South Africa keeps on rubbing salt on customers’ wounds over and over, giving an impression that it’s a kind of brand that doesn’t take its SA fan base seriously, so much so it appears to be willing to mislead both its existing customers and potential clients just to lead them to their website.
What am I talking about, one may ask? For months, New Balance had floated around images of the successor to New Balance 550, the 650R.
It’s been highly anticipated and as a staunch fan myself, I’ve been doing groundwork to secure a pair for myself, and one for our lucky reader. In one of my previous communications – via Twitter DM – with New Balance SA, I was assured (as shown in the below tweet) that they would notify clients when the shoes become available.
Fast forward to the 5th of May 2022, without any warning as earlier promised, New Balance SA put out a link on its Twitter page which I immediately followed and was met with a message – as shown below – that said “this item is no longer available”.
Keep in mind there was no email correspondence. Then a week or so later, they made sure to let us know that they would be releasing the 327 silhouette restock, along with the xc72, but no update on the ALD 650 R.
So I messaged them on Twitter again, only for them to tell me they were all sold out? How? I was on the page the minute the link went live, I called all their experience stores and none of them had stock or even knew what the 650 R was.
At this point, I was livid because it costs double the price to import New Balance sneakers into SA, that’s if you can find a pair that isn’t twice or three times the retail price. And as it turned out, we weren’t the only one frustrated by this. Even SA’s well-known personality George Mguni, aka @Okay_wasabi, previously lamented the unavailability of another popular silhouette (Salehe Bembury).
Wasabi has also shared his struggles with finding a pair of another popular New Balance collaboration, saying: “Me shame I’ve got nothing but love for you New Balance SA. You’re amazing. But you have betrayed me by not bringing the shoes too. I am hurt.”
More popular New Balance silhouettes gone MIA
Where are the Joe Fresh Goods 9060s? What about the general release Sea Salt 9060s? For starters, New Balance SA does not have an active Instagram page, so it’s not surprising that they appear to be tone death with what the people want. To simply break it down for anyone who cares to listen, we want access to JJJJound collaboration, Aime Leon Dore, Kith, Stray Rats, Basement collabs. We want someone who will go to bat for the South African sneaker community, in this case, New Balance die hard fans.
As per this article, I’ve written about New Balance before and alluded to the fact that perhaps they may not be aware of the potential they have to dominate the South African Market. To me, it’s become clear that this won’t happen anytime soon unless the powers that be at New Balance SA get a clue about what’s going on in the sneaker culture – unless all they want to give us is running shoes.
Perhaps it’s the old age story of not having enough representation in the higher offices or corporate that has them so detached to the sneakerhead culture. It doesn’t help that they have isolated themselves and can’t be reached like the other major brands. There isn’t so much so as a contact number. It’s so discouraging to say the least.
Until they sit down with key figures in the local sneaker community in the likes of Rohin Ramjee, Okay Wasabi and Joshua Dunn, as per below tweet, to discuss a way forward and unpack ways to help New Balance effectively capitalise on its growing popularity.
Better still, how about New Balance SA to hosting an event at one of their experience stores to appease the fans, and make enough pairs of Joe Fresh Goods and Teddy Santis available on the day. We’re not asking for free stuff, we just want to be on par with our American and European New Balance counterparts.
So for this unending let down, and more so against my will, I dub this our NOWinSA Brand Fail of the Month. Hold your L, NB Team!