The Story Behind the Legendary Aime Leon Dore x New Balance 550 Collaboration

Aimé Leon Dore is an icon based in New York, led by legendary designer Teddy Santis. Originally a men’s streetwear brand, Santis strived to create a simple aesthetic that every man could style in their own unique way. It blew up and became popular in the years since its launch in 2014, and may have been a surprise to some people. Why? Because Teddy Santis originally wasn’t going to dive into the world of fashion. He started out working for his parent’s restaurant, where he had passions for hip-hop and basketball. Fast forward to 2019, and his iconic brand launched its first collaboration with the sneaker giant New Balance after becoming a creative director.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of New Balance and its successful collaboration with Aime Leon Dore to create the 550 sneaker. We’ll look at a timeline of the collaborations the two have had together (Hint: it’s more than 1!) as well as what makes this sneaker so well-liked, different colorways the sneaker has had, as well as upcoming releases for more collaboration.


A Timeline of the Aime Leon Dore x New Balance 550 Sneaker

Aime Leon Dore has had collaborations with New Balance for other styles of sneakers, but today we’re going to purely focus on the New Balance 550 x Aime Leon Dore collections.

The Fall/Winter 2020 Collection

The first collection ALD released with New Balance is an inspiration for all even the name is something people can feel hopeful from. It’s called the International Friendship Through Basketball collection, and from the very start, ALD and New Balance wanted to capture the spirit that pickup basketball instills into people. The first ad they released even featured a montage of different people playing basketball in the streets of New York. 

New Balance and ALD recognized that there are people from every corner of the Earth that struggle daily with various things but at the end of the day are reunited with basketball. The founder of ALD himself even took solace in playing basketball, an avid pickup player himself. The name International Friendship Through Basketball is sure to inspire anyone who comes across it- who doesn’t love a unifying brand that seeks to include outreach to all types of people? 

This first collection released four different colorways of sneakers, which are covered in greater depth below if you’d like to check them out. The limited availability of this sneaker made it a hot buy and soon exploded with popularity after it was released in October of 2020. It did so well, in fact, that ALD and New Balance got right to designing a second collection, which was released in the Spring and Summer of 2021.


The Spring/Summer 2021 Collection

The Spring and Summer 2021 Collection of New Balance x ALD sneakers is no different than the first in terms of inspiration and glory. The 550 kept its same, classic basketball shoe design and was released in two more colorways instead of four, which are discussed in great detail below. ALD and New Balance wanted to keep the same theme behind their collaboration, naming this release the International Friendship Through Basketball Pt. 2. 

Although quite recent, both of these releases perfectly send a message about becoming united through a sport most everyone loves, especially since the height of the pandemic. 

Why Everyone Loves This Shoe

There are many reasons why fans love this shoe and why it’s highly sought after. Here are some of the reasons we found as to why that is:

  1. Lowkey, yet effective branding: New Balance and ALD make their branding look effortless, partially because of their simple outreach approach to the 550 releases. Using their famous slogan “International Friendship Through Basketball”, they released 80s-style ads, posters, shirts, gym shorts, and even duffle bags that donned the phrase on them. Fans instantly fell in love with the entire campaign, which is one of the reasons why everyone loves this iconic shoe.
  2. Soft base colors that are accentuated by splashes of color: The New Balance x ALD 550 sneaker is a true representation of 80s basketball culture, with all colorways sporting a white leather base. The traditional shoe design is accentuated by splashes of rich colors commonly seen in some of the first basketball uniforms. The decision to design the shoe in this way is another reason why fans love the 550. 
  3. The classic basketball shoe design: The P550 Oxford is a traditional basketball shoe that is comfortable yet supportive. New Balance and ALD wanted to focus on keeping this same classic style and 80s theme by reviving the P550 and giving it a little extra life with the different colorways. Fans love that ALD and New Balance decided to stick to the traditional basketball roots and design the sneakers in a traditional yet popular way. 
  4. High-quality materials it’s made out of: The 550 sneaker is not just loved by fans because of its looks- it’s made out of highly luxurious materials, making it an all-around great shoe to add to one’s collection. For starters, it has a rich leather base with the highest quality stitching throughout. The fabric inside the shoe is breathable, yet comfortable mesh, and therefore can be used for more activities than just basketball. 

The Different Colorways of the 550

Now, let’s take a detailed look into the different colorways of all the New Balance x ALD releases organized by each release.

First Release Colorways

  1. Natural Green: The first colorway of the very first release of the 550s is Natural Green. There are lots of different hues of green out there, making it a difficult choice for New Balance and ALD to choose a hue that’s just right for this colorway. Nothing screams 80s basketball shoe more than white leather and natural green accents, and fans could not agree more with the color selection. 
  2. White RedWhite Red: White Red: Another classic basketball colorway, white red features a white and red leather upper with a white base. There are accents of dark red on the midsole and by the collar of the sneaker. 
  3. White Navy: White Navy was the third colorway released in the first collection of ALD x New Balance 550s. This colorway is more simplistic in style, featuring an all-white leather base. The navy blue accents appear on portions of the midsole, upper, collar, tongue, and New Balance branding of the sneaker.
  4. White Gray: The fourth colorway in the collection, White Gray is styled exactly how White Navy is styled. There’s a rich white leather base, with accents of classic gray throughout the midsole, upper, tongue, color, and branding stamp. This colorway was perfect for fans that still wanted to support the release but who didn’t want a whole lot of color.

Second Release Colorways

  1. White/Cream/Natural Green: This first colorway is similar to the Natural Green sneaker of the first release, with a little extra depth added to it. All the while still displaying qualities of a traditional Oxford P550. The base of the shoe is still classic white leather. Accenting it are colors of natural green on the midsole, collar, and tongue, cream on the “N” branding, midsole, heel, and tongue, and grey on the bottom portion of the midsole.
  2. White/Red/Navy: This colorway sealed the deal for many fans because of the vintage look the sneaker has to it. Still with the white leather base, the accents this time are navy blue, red, and gray. Navy blue is seen on the collar, tongue, midsole, and outline of the “N”, red on the “N”, midsole, and heel, and gray on the lower portion of the midsole.

There was such a positive reaction from fans from both of these releases that both New Balance and ALD didn’t want to stop there with their collaborations. Now let’s fast forward and take a look at some of the confirmed upcoming releases of the ALD x New Balance 550 sneaker.


Confirmed Upcoming Releases of the 550

There are multiple upcoming releases that New Balance has scheduled for the 550, one of which includes another Aime Leon Dore collaboration. After the success of the first two, why not keep going right? That’s just what New Balance and ALD had in mind with this next release. 

Spring/Summer ’22 Release

Expected sometime in the Spring and Summer of 2022, the third release between the ALD x New Balance collaboration offers three fresh, fun colorways. Each of these shoes will retail for $130. 

  1. Deep Purple: This deep purple colorway is vintage, yet modern at the same time. This sneaker features the classic all white base with deep purple accents. Purple can be found throughout the midsole, “N” logo, collar, and tongue. 
  2. Dark Olive: This colorway is drastically different than the other green color released in first collection that ALD and New Balance put out. As the name suggests, this green is olive green in color and is featured on the midsole, heel, collar, tongue, and “N” on the sneaker. The base is of course made of the classic white leather.
  3. Chocolate Brown: Last but not least, chocolate brown is another earthy tone that will be sure to please the ALD and New Balance collaboration fans. This rich chocolate color will be featured on portions of the midsole, “N” logo, collar, and tongue of the sneaker.

The Future of Aime Leon Dore x New Balance- Will It Last?

Despite the fact that this collaboration between two iconic brands is relatively recent, it’s looking like it won’t be stopping anytime soon. From the first initial planning to the actual shoes themselves, fans all over the world have been enjoying the Aime Leon Dore x New Balance 550.