New Balance 550, Is That You?

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so maybe New Balance should be appreciative of Gucci’s new MAC80, a new sneaker that’s astoundingly similar to that of the Boston-based label’s 550 silhouette.

For some context, NB’s 550 has arguably been the sneaker of the past few years, accounting for 36% of all New Balance sales during the calendar year of 2022, according to GOAT’s aftermarket platform.

Having initially launched back in 1989, the basketball-inspired silhouette returned with a renewed lease of life in 2021 in the form of countless sell-out mainline iterations, and has since been the focal point of successful collaborations, most notably with Teddy Santis’ Aimé Leon Dore.

Of course, the MAC80 isn’t a carbon-copy of the 550 by any means, and nor am I urging anyone to take legal action. So, that being the case, why wouldn’t a house like Gucci want in on the action by making their own 550?

Officially revealed online earlier this week, the MAC80 — which arrives in a tonne of colorways across — is available for pre-order now for the ripe old price of $950, a figure near-on $800 more expensive than a NB 550.

While a higher price point might not be a surprise (I mean, it’s Gucci FGS), the fact they look so similar to their NB counterparts does pose the question as to why you’d opt for the Italian’s take as opposed to, say, six pairs of 550s?

Nevertheless, Gucci’s MAC80s are here and, like most other designer sneakers, will most likely flutter quietly away into the ether over the next few months, barely leaving a mark on the sneaker industry as a whole.

That being said, Gucci does know its onions when it comes to sneaker collaborations. Before recently revealing a unique Roblox link-up with Vans, the house launched round two of its ongoing adidas collaboration which features Gazelles, ZX8000 sneakers, and Adilette slides.

Such is Gucci‘s prowess when it comes to link-ups (a recent Palace drop also comes to mind), maybe instead of making its own 550 it should’ve just collaborated with New Balance instead? Hindsight, aye.

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