When Tom Carleo, New Balance’s VP of Global Running, came to scout out the New York City Marathon expo in 2015 and 2016, he saw a lot of lineups, not enough variety and a space that wasn’t inspiring runners to do anything other than suffer through the wait and then leave.
Lineups to pay for a coveted race jacket were at times nearly an hour, and as Carleo points out, “runners were being treated like cattle,” and the last thing a runner wants to do is “stand in a line the day before the marathon.”
Rob DeMartini, New Balance’s president, decided the iconic American running brand would do a few things differently for their first year as a major sponsor of the TCS New York City Marathon in 2017. In order to make sure every question was answered, and the lines didn’t materialize, he opted to bring in a couple hundred of their most experienced employees from their North American retail stores instead of contracting random staff for the weekend. He also gave his design team the green light to be more forward thinking with their creations for New York.
Jeff Garabedian, who oversaw the NYC Marathon-themed apparel design, says they decided to offer a much bigger selection of both performance and athleisure wear. More than 80 pieces spread across the massive New Balance store set up at the Jacob Javits Center, home of the marathon expo. They even developed a “T-shirt Deli” for special marathon cotton prints. Garabedian is particularly proud of some of these designs, as they fussed over the specifics in order to make sure they cleverly connected with what makes New York such a special city for runners.
The iconic jacket was something that both Garabedian and DeMartini wanted to make sure is a hit for runners, and something that can be worn during a run or walking around town. “It’s based on the 1978 Windcheater jacket, but redesigned for this re-release,” Garabedian says. “It’s meant to be worn casually, but also has performance fabrics and design.”
The entire aesthetic was inspired by taking a “30,000-foot view” of New York from above–hence the speckled golden lights. A pinkish red was chosen as the secondary highlight tying all the pieces in the collection together because it’s the colour of “passion and speed.”
Sara Wild, a product manager for performance running wear, who is running the marathon this year, tucked in a little secret under the right foot of each runner who picked up a pair of NYC-edition shoes. The Zante Fresh Foam, 880, 1080 Fresh Foam and 1400 all have the course map printed onto the insole. For Wild, these shoes and the New York experience are “special,” and these shoes should be cherished “like trophies,” so she tucked in a little reminder of the world’s biggest marathon for every runner who takes home a pair of New Balance.
Not able to make it to the Big Apple for this year’s race, but still want some NYC-themed swag? You can find it all online, here.