Tennis lifestyle heritage has a custom feel to it in Lawrence, Massachusetts. New Balance has taken its tennis past to new places by introducing the Court 300 lifestyle tennis sneaker based on designs from the 1980s to the brand’s NB1 platform, a fully online customizable option for sneaker fans.
By introducing the 300 to the platform—the tennis sneaker now dubbed the US300 is the fifth model added to NB1— in a unisex model, fans of the sneaker get 16 areas of customization, with 20 suede colorways and 14 logo customization options, including reflective and embossed materials. All NB1 product gets produced in the New Balance Lawrence plant, one of five plants the company operates in Massachusetts and Maine.
“New Balance has a long-standing history in tennis,” says Sunni Fleming, New Balance’s senior project manager for footwear customization. “In celebration of our court heritage, we opted to add the US300 to the NB1 custom offering.”
Fleming says that the streamlined unisex style should resonate with women and global markets. The sneaker is currently available in North America, Europe and Japan, with additional markets coming online yet this year.
Retailing for $150 and taking two weeks to deliver to consumers, the custom version includes a new mesh made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled water bottles. Options in the design suite include metallic synthetic, suede, the recycled mesh as well as a palette of what the brand calls “soft, feminine colorways.”
The embroidered personalization component offers one more component of personalized style.
Expect to see more color and material options for the US300 style in fall 2018, Fleming says.
The Court 300 started as a performance sneaker for Roy Emerson and Virginia Wade, with a focus on fit, comfort, stability and durability. The design was different for the day with a gum-rubber outsole within a polyurethane core and wall and lightweight mesh on the upper. The sneaker faded from the performance world as new technologies emerged, but was brought back in 2014 as a lifestyle sneaker with New Balance athletes donning the look off the court, such as Milos Raonic and the all-black version.
The customizable options have athletes coming back to the table to try their hand at design, whether Misaki Doi or Heather Watson (right).
Watson tells Tennis.com she enjoyed the process of designing a pair of 300s, loading her design with plenty of red. “Red is one of my favorite colors to wear,” she says, “because I’m not particularly a girly girl, but love bright colors. The red colorway was the perfect fit for me.”
Beyond the design, Watson says she feels like she can walk miles in the “simple and super comfy” sneaker.
With the US300’s introduction to NB1, tennis lifestyle design turned custom.
Tim Newcomb covers sneakers for Tennis Magazine and tennis.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.