Now, why would you, a devoted sneaker enthusiast, want some shoes like New Balance 550? Well, as much as we adore the 550’s retro charm, classic silhouette, and timeless style, adding a different vibe or even a contrasting brand can breathe new life into your lineup.
Without further ado, these are some great New Balance 550 alternatives in 2023…
Shoes Like New Balance 550
The ALDs (Aime Leon Dore collaborations) arguably played a significant role in sparking the resurgence of the 550s.
If we rewind a year or two, the New Balance 550s would have sold out almost instantly. They were challenging to acquire, and their resale value remained quite high.
Fast forward to 2023, and these once highly coveted silhouettes and colorways are no longer fetching much more than retail on the resale market. They have become relatively easy to cop at retail prices. So, we find ourselves in a time where the New Balance 550 is starting to sit.
It’s worth noting that the 550s were originally crafted as basketball sneakers back in 1989. However, fast forward to 2023, and they’ve evolved into a go-to lifestyle sneaker for many.
Best Nike Alternative to New Balance 550
The Nike Air Force 1 is a legendary sneaker that needs no introduction. Here’s why it makes for an excellent alternative and why you might find it tempting to switch things up.
The Air Force 1’s sleek, low-cut design has been turning heads since its debut in 1982. While the 550 boasts a retro basketball aesthetic, the Air Force 1 offers a streetwear elegance that seamlessly blends with casual and semi-formal outfits. It’s a statement piece that effortlessly transitions from the court to the streets.
The New Balance 550 typically features a leather upper, providing a classic and durable feel. On the other hand, the Air Force 1 often comes in various materials, from leather to suede and even canvas. The versatility in materials allows for a broader range of styles, textures, and colorways. You’ll find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to picking the perfect Air Force 1 for your mood.
While both sneakers offer comfortable midsoles, the Air Force 1’s encapsulated Air-Sole unit provides unparalleled cushioning. It’s like walking on clouds, and let’s admit it – comfort is non-negotiable for us sneaker enthusiasts.
The 550 usually features a rubber outsole for reliable traction. Meanwhile, the Air Force 1’s pivot points and circular tread pattern ensure excellent grip and maneuverability. Whether you’re navigating city streets or dodging fellow sneakerheads at a release, the Air Force 1 has you covered.
Price & Collabs
The Air Force 1, despite its legendary status, often comes with a price tag comparable to the New Balance 550. Considering the quality, style, and durability, it’s a bang for your buck.
While the 550 has had its fair share of exciting partnerships, the Air Force 1’s collab history reads like a who’s who of the fashion world. From Virgil Abloh’s Off-White to Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack, the Air Force 1’s collabs are nothing short of legendary.
Overall, both sneakers offer a unique charm, a rich history, and undeniable style. Whether you’re drawn to the 550’s retro vibes or the Air Force 1’s streetwear elegance, each has its place in the hearts and closets.
One last note, I would recommend you check out Nike By You because you can create similar colorways with cream midsoles and uppers that look really clean.
Best Adidas Alternative to New Balance 550
Looking at what Adidas has in their lineup, I personally believe the Forum 84 stands out as their closest match to the New Balance 550. It’s a fantastic budget-friendly option for those looking for a reliable pair of summer sneakers. I find it quite refreshing to come across well-made sneakers at a decent price point.
Adidas has certainly garnered attention with collaborations like the Bad Bunny collab, bringing more spotlight to the Forum.
Originally released in 1984, hence the name 84, these shoes have made a comeback from the archives, at least by Adidas’ standards.
Among the colorways, the chalk/white combination caught my eye for a couple of reasons. The blend of white with off-white appealed to me, and the absence of a strap, unlike many other models, added to its appeal.
Often dubbed as Adidas’ Dunk, sharing similarities and fitting into the lifestyle skating category, I find that the Forum Low boasts slightly more premium materials than the Dunks.
What’s great about the Forum is the variety it offers—high top, mid-top, low cut, and low cut with the strap.
The Forum showcases a wonderfully soft leather in the toe box, covering the medial and lateral sides, and extending a bit around the ankle area. Moving to the mudguard, you’ll find a high-quality suede that adds a nice touch to the overall feel.
The insole doesn’t skimp on padding, and when you slip your feet into these, you can truly feel the luxurious materials.
Admittedly, these may not boast Boost or any groundbreaking cushioning technology. However, when compared to other solid midsole sneakers, the Forum holds its own quite well. The combination of ample padding and premium materials on top makes for a pretty decent feel.
In terms of sizing, I went true to size and I didn’t have any issue with that, and that’s what I would recommend to you.
Overall, the Forum is an excellent choice for summer, and it’s light on your pockets. The availability of various colorways makes it easy to find one that suits your style. If you’re unable to snag a pair of New Balance 550, I consider the Forum a decent alternative.
Considering the $110 price tag, the craftsmanship and overall quality of the shoe exceeded my expectations. The premium feel in hand, with abundant suede and leather, adds a touch of luxury that you might not anticipate at this price point.
Best Asics Alternative to New Balance 550
The Asics EX89, inspired by the 1989 Gel Extreme performance basketball model, was worn by players like Kurt Rambis and Michael Cooper. It has been reimagined and revitalized by Asics and now it stands out as a definite rival to the Nike Dunk Low and a noteworthy alternative to the New Balance 550.
Although its appearance may resemble a typical retro basketball shoe with a hard rubber outsole, it incorporates modern FFBlast foam technology in the midsole, enhancing cushioning and rear foot shock absorption—a feature absent in the standard hard rubber outsoles of many retro 80’s basketball models.
When it comes to comfort, the EX89 is legitimately comfy, surpassing standard retro 80’s basketball models, especially those featuring hard rubber outsoles.
The combination of FFBlast cushioning, the rubber outsole, and Ortholite comfort insoles makes for a really soft and cushioned ride despite the shoes having a relatively flat profile.
However, you also have the forgiveness in the leather upper as well as the structural reinforcements of the heel counter, which makes these feel really stable when you’re wearing them.
While they may not compete with the comfort of running or modern shoes, they stand out as a more comfortable option compared to models like the New Balance 550 or the Nike Air Force 1.
Quality-wise, the EX89 holds its ground well within its $120 price range. The really nice, soft, supple leathers feel sturdy, offering a commendable level of quality, although not reaching the level of excellence associated with higher-end shoes made in the USA or Italy. I think the leather cuts, meshes, and nylons exhibit good craftsmanship, with no noticeable issues.
All in all, Asics, known predominantly for their runners and newer models, intrigued me with their take on retro basketball shoes, and I can confidently say that the EX89 met my expectations in terms of comfort and a unique blend of style, making it a compelling choice, particularly when looking for an alternative to the 550 that effortlessly combines comfort and retro aesthetics.
Best Reebok Alternative to New Balance 550
If you’re looking for that similar vintage vibe, I’d highly recommend Reebok’s Club C as a great alternative to the New Balance 550. The Club C’s versatility is remarkable, seamlessly complementing any outfit in your wardrobe.
I think what often goes unnoticed about this shoe is its timeless appeal – it looks just as fantastic fresh out of the box as it does with a bit of wear and tear. If you’re leaning towards a more colorful palette, I’d steer you towards the Revenge colorways, especially the green and blue pairs. Both the green as well as the blue pairs look really nice in my opinion, and for $80, you can’t beat it.
Comparing this to the Air Force 1 or the New Balance 550, the Club C at $80 is a steal for a pair that’s likely to endure over the years. The stitched and glued soles, particularly in the cream colorway, tend to age really well.
There are three variations of the Club C 85 – the regular, vintage, and TVs. The TVs, retailing for $90, stand as the most expensive, with the regular ones being $10 more affordable.
The Club C boasts a flatter and thinner top, providing a more narrow look, while the Regular 85 C’s feature a rounded toe box and a more rounded side profile. So, depending on your style preference, there’s a Club C variation that suits your unique taste.
When I first stepped into these, I noticed a snug fit, particularly around the sides and in the toe box area. Even though they fit true to size, it’s more like a precise fit – almost exact. The shoe itself is quite narrow, and if you’ve got wider feet, this is something to take into account.
In my opinion, the best comparison is with Vans—they share a similar narrowness, and the pointed toe box adds a bit of pressure on your toes. Personally, I lean towards having a bit of wiggle room in my shoes, and looking back, I wish I had opted for a half size up for that additional space.
So, if you’re like me and prefer that extra breathing space, I’d recommend going a half size up for a more comfortable fit.
I recently went grocery shopping, spending a good two hours navigating the aisles, and I can confidently say I probably could have extended my stroll for another two hours in the Club C.
From my perspective, they are incredibly comfortable. The shoe sits at a comfortable low height below the ankle, eliminating any annoying rubbing or discomfort around the ankle and Achilles area—definitely a plus in my book.
What’s impressive is the virtually non-existent break-in time, thanks mainly to the quality of the leather used. The insole adds to the comfort with its quarter-inch thickness and a combination of EVA, sponge, and French terry cloth.
Reebok went the extra mile by incorporating patches of foam on the inside strategically placed around the arch and its opposite side, providing additional cushioning.
The ankle area gets special attention, featuring terry cloth for a soft feel and ample padding. Even the tongue doesn’t miss out, with a touch of terry cloth and a thick foam wrapped in nylon.
When you put all these elements together, you end up with a genuinely comfortable shoe, and that’s something I truly appreciate. If you’re looking for comfort that lasts through extended activities like grocery shopping or any casual stroll, these shoes are a reliable choice.
The leather used in these shoes is actually chrome-tanned leather, and while it might not sound particularly special, what’s crucial to know is that this leather is exceptionally soft, especially when compared to other shoes.
In my opinion, the upper stands out because it doesn’t have that typical plasticky feel associated with chrome-tanned leather. The fact that it’s an all-leather upper is what contributes to that virtually zero break-in time, which is a notable advantage. So, you get the softness without the usual stiffness, making these shoes comfortable right out of the box.
Before we wrap this up, here’s everything you need to know about the 550…
Everything You Need to Know About New Balance 550
New Balance has been making significant strides over the past years to firmly establish itself in the ongoing sneaker conversations, and without a doubt, the 550 is a standout silhouette that has captured people’s attention.
Many have dubbed it the “influencer sneaker” of 2022, and honestly, that designation seems fitting. Celebrities like Justin and Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, and others have been spotted rocking this pair, but its impact goes beyond just the celebrity scene.
Sneakerheads have witnessed remarkable collaborations involving the 550s, notably the Aime Leon Dore collaboration. The United Arrows collaboration and the Rich Paul collaboration have further solidified this silhouette’s status, making waves not only in mainstream fashion but also within the sneakerhead community.
So, what sets this sneaker apart and makes it so special? Let’s delve in and find out…
The upper of the 550 predominantly features premium leathers, although some variations opt for a suede toe guard instead of plain leather. The stitching is neatly done, with no noticeable glue marks across the upper, presenting a decent shoe within its price range.
In terms of technology, the 550 remains true to its 1980s roots, lacking standalone cutting-edge tech. However, it does incorporate Ortholite insoles, providing a slightly bouncy feel on the inside.
A notable detail on the 550s is the basketball graphic adorning the tongue, a nod to the sneaker’s basketball heritage.
For sizing, the general consensus is to go true to size or half a size up in the New Balance 550 if you have wider feet due to its narrow build.
People have been showcasing diverse styling options for the 550s. From what I’ve observed, athleisure seems to be the most popular choice. Pairing the sneakers with sweatpants or wide-leg joggers, complemented by a crew neck or hoodie, is a foolproof and trendy option.
Given the strong retro vibes of the shoe, the 550 also pairs well with a varsity jacket or a college sweater, adding a touch of nostalgia and connecting it back to its roots.
Interestingly, I’ve come across some outfits where people incorporate the 550s into more formal attire. This versatility makes the 550 suitable for various styles, allowing you to experiment and express your personal fashion preferences.
The retail for the 550 tends to be around $125 and the resale for them was pretty decent as well for the GR pairs. That being said, I saw the collaboration pairs go over $400 and the most expensive collaboration I saw was a pair of Auralee 550s which was going over $900.
In conclusion, exploring alternatives to the New Balance 550 reveals a diverse range of options catering to various tastes and preferences.
The Nike Air Force 1 stands out with its iconic streetwear elegance and collaborations, offering both style and comfort. The Asics EX89 provides a unique blend of retro aesthetics and modern cushioning technology, making it a standout choice for comfort enthusiasts.
Adidas Forum 84 captures attention with its vintage vibes and premium materials, providing a budget-friendly yet quality option.
Lastly, the Reebok Club C offers a versatile and accessible choice, excelling in both comfort and style, making it a solid alternative for those seeking a well-made pair at an affordable price point.
Let me know which one’s your favorite 550 alternative and I’ll see you in the next one 🙂