First of all, where is Craig Bowen? Well, for those who may not know who Craig Bowen is, he is the boss of New Balance South Africa. Nonetheless, you can be forgiven for not knowing him or not having come across his name to begin with since he gave us nothing, us New Balance fans in South Africa, to remember him by.
New Balance SA is deaf
Unfortunately, New Balance South Africa keeps rubbing salt on customers’ wounds over and over again, making it seem like it’s some kind of brand that doesn’t take its SA fan base seriously, so much so that she seems willing to mislead both her existing and potential customers just to direct them to their website.
What am I talking about, you might ask? For months New Balance had been floating around with images of the New Balance 550 successor, the 650R.
It was highly anticipated and as a die-hard fan myself, I did some groundwork to get a pair for me and one for our lucky reader. In one of my previous communications – via Twitter DM – with New Balance SA, I was assured (as noted in the tweet below) that they would let customers know when the shoes were available.
Fast forward to May 5, 2022, without any warning as previously promised, New Balance SA posted a link on their Twitter page which I immediately followed and got a message saying “this item is no longer available” .
Keep in mind that there was no email correspondence. Then about a week later they made sure to let us know that they would be posting the silhouette 327 restock, along with the xc72, but no updates on the ALD 650 R.
So I tweeted them again, only to have them tell me they were all sold? How? I was on the page the minute the link went live, I called all of their experience stores and none of them had stock or even knew what the 650 R was .
At this point I was livid because it costs double the price to import New Balance sneakers into South Africa, that is if you can find a pair that doesn’t cost twice or three times the Retail price. And it turns out we weren’t the only ones frustrated by this. Even well-known SA personality George Mguni aka @Okay_wasabi previously lamented the unavailability of another popular silhouette (Salehe Bembury).
Wasabi also shared her struggles to find a pair from another popular New Balance collaboration, saying, “I’m ashamed I have nothing but love for you New Balance SA. You are amazing. But you betrayed me by not bringing the shoes too. I am hurt.”
The most popular New Balance silhouettes have gone MIA
Where are Joe Fresh Goods 9060? What about the general release of the Sea Salt 9060s? For starters, New Balance SA doesn’t have an active Instagram page, so it’s no surprise that they seem to be dead out of tune with what people want. To simply break it down for anyone who cares to listen, we want access to JJJJound, Aime Leon Dore, Kith, Stray Rats, Basement collabs. We want someone who will go to bat for the South African sneaker community, in this case diehard New Balance fans.
According to this article, I have previously written about New Balance and alluded to the fact that they may not be aware of the potential they have to dominate the South African market. To me, it’s become clear that this isn’t going to happen anytime soon unless the executives of New Balance SA have some idea of what’s going on in sneaker culture – unless all they want us to do is give, these are running shoes.
Perhaps it’s the old age story of not having enough representation in senior offices or companies that has made them so detached from sneakerhead culture. It doesn’t help that they isolated themselves and are not reachable like other big brands. There is not so much as a contact number. It’s discouraging to say the least.
Until they sat down with key figures in the local sneaker community like Rohin Ramjee, Okay Wasabi and Joshua Dunn to discuss a way forward.
Better yet, how about New Balance SA throwing an event at one of its experience stores to appease fans and make enough pairs of Joe Fresh Goods and Teddy Santis available on the day. We’re not asking for free stuff, we just want to be on par with our American and European counterparts at New Balance.
So for this never-ending disappointment, and more so against my will, I’m dubbing it our NOWinSA Brand Failure of the Month. Hold your L, NB team!