Whispered rumors of a new entrant into the action sports realm have come to fruition as New Balance announced today its skate footwear line: New Balance Numeric. Housed under Jaime Thomas’ legendary Black Box Distribution, this deal combines New Balance’s heritage of sport performance with Black Box’s skateboarding sensibilities. Skateboarding has been long protected, perhaps monopolized, by a core group of independently run companies.
In recent years, as skating has expanded in popular culture (e.g. X-Games, Street League, the Tony Hawk video game series) , we have seen the entrance of larger corporate entities into the arena, to the dismay of some skeptical parties. Said corporations, despite their criticism, have been largely successful in popularizing skateboarding as a sport (rather than a lifestyle), and have introduced various technologies to protect a skateboarder’s most useful appendages: the feet. Further, these companies, with the increased backing of respected professionals within the niche, have made a legitimate case for their entrance into the competition for an admittedly profitable audience.
The fate of so-called “core” companies no doubt comes into question, but perhaps entreats these smaller parties to consider their strategies in a market now split wide open–such is capitalism. Only time will tell when New Balance Numeric, or NB#, officially reveals itself on January 4, 2013 at Agenda Tradeshow. The team and overall aesthetic are, as of now, a matter of public speculation, but NB# will be exclusively available at specialty skate retailers in July 2013.