DC’s love for New Balance sneakers highlighted in new documentary

A new documentary dives into the love affair between D.C. residents and New Balance sneakers that elevated the functional shoe into a local fashion icon.

While other cities adopted Air Force Ones, Timberlands and Chuck Taylors, the District’s streetwear scene in the ’80s became obsessed with the comfy footwear often sported by suburban dads.

“A one-time, strictly performance running shoe was able to make the natural organic transition into a lifestyle piece that really dictates fashion in D.C. as far as footwear is concerned,” explained Jacob Garibay, the self-described sneaker head and filmmaker behind “DC’s Shoe: The Origin of New Balance in Washington, DC.”

The ascension of the sneaker started around 1982 with the introduction of the 990 models. Wearers say the shoe conveyed status and wealth.

“The New Balance was the first $100 tennis shoes and it was an indicator that you had something going on, whether it was money or you know, you may have had a good job, or you may have been running the streets making a lot of money — it was just an indicator that you were somebody,” Garibay told WTOP. “So people would meet up at these go-gos and they really just wanted to represent their neighborhood.”


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One store that is still up and running was one of the main sources of the shoe supply.

Parvis Mizrahi opened Prince and Princess in Georgetown after he noticed that there was only one shoe store in the area – and then he began selling New Balances.

“You think about Georgetown at the time, the fashion was more pointed to like super business formal, maybe some business casual, he opened up what would end up becoming like a legitimate streetwear store before streetwear really was even a thing,” Garibay said.

The shoe evolved from an ’80s status symbol to a tradition. Garibay mentioned the shoe’s impact even on somebody born in the 2000s, “who literally just knows that he wears New Balance, because that’s what his parents put them [in].”

You can watch the entire documentary, “DC’s Shoe: The Origin of New Balance in Washington, DC” on YouTube.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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