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We Tried It: Customizing Our Own New Balance Sneakers

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Like many people, PEOPLE StyleWatch editors resolved to be more active in 2014. And like many people, we’re always looking for ways to make that resolution a little more fun. We’re trying new classes, working out with friends — and investing in cuter workout wear, starting from the ground up. When we heard about the customizable New Balance sneakers, we decided to each give them a shot to see if having just-for-us footwear would inspire us to get off the couch. Did it work?

New Balance sneakers
Courtesy New Balance

Brittany Talarico, Associate Style Editor: Since moving to Williamsburg, I’ve noticed that incorporating sneakers into your #OOTD is a thing. And I’m not talking about some basic Chuck Taylors. I’m talking bold color, cool laces, wedge styles… you name it. (Note: This is probably a thing in places outside of Brooklyn, but I continue to be amazed at the trendsetters who live in my hood.) And I’ve always admired those people who can make a pair of sneakers look cool with anything. So I was totally up for the challenge of designing my own NB pair.

I found the design process very pleasant, and I knew right away I wanted a bold color. Once I selected burnt orange, I debated a bit on accent colors, but since just saying the word “chambray” brings me joy, it was a no brainer to go with the fun blue hue. I did my initials on the back (I’m not as clever as Alex, see below), and then I was ready to test them out on a drink date with my fiancé. (Yes, he took this pic. And yes, we purposely selected the graffiti brick wall backdrop.) Overall, I’d give the experience — from the design process to my photo shoot — a 10.

New Balance sneakers
Courtesy Andrea Lavinthal

Andrea Lavinthal, Beauty and Style Director: Some people love the freedom of customization. I am not one of those people. I panic when I have to decorate a onesie at a baby shower and it took me almost a day to decide on a color and font combination for my monogrammed phone case (you can imagine how I feel about expansive salad bars).

So when it came to designing my own shoes, I took the easiest route possible and stuck with two colors: red for the base, light gray as the accent. I’m really pleased with how my sneaks turned out. My favorite part is the embroidery on the back. The limited space automatically narrows down the options for what you can put there — which is a plus if you’re indecisive like me. I went with a childhood nickname (which also happens to be my Twitter handle, giving “follow me” a whole new meaning for anyone working out behind me).

New Balance Customized sneakers
Courtesy Alex Apatoff

Alex Apatoff, Style News Editor:The weather here in San Francisco has been remarkably beautiful — 70° and sunny every day. This is great if you’re a normal person, and terrible if you’re like me and all you want is an excuse to binge watch Netflix. The sunny weather is incredibly guilt-inducing, and suddenly even the laziest people find themselves thinking “I should go for a hike.”

So my new sneakers couldn’t have come at a better time. I had them embroidered with a warning to anyone behind me (“Caution: Slow”) and done up in my favorite colors, black and pink. Then I laced them up and walked up some big hills (P.S.: These photos are old. It’s really warm and I promise I took down my Christmas tree). I found them totally comfortable on the first wear — no first-week blisters like my regular gym shoes. And, unlike my regular old white sneakers, I don’t mind wearing these while walking around the city, which is my preferred form of exercise anyway.

Would you give customized sneakers a shot? What are your best fun workout tips? Tell us below!