CK: The marketing of the 990v3 has been very keen to emphasize that the shoe is made in the United States. What’s your take on New Balance’s domestic manufacturing and what’s the significance of it to your design?
Nyssen: No one else does it. We’re the only brand that makes running shoes here. Everyone else gave up. We still do it and we’re doing it really well. It’s a cool thing for the brand and for the industry. If you’re wearing a hat, t-shirt, jeans, whatever, most likely it’s made in China or Indonesia. I think at least one piece of your gear should be made here in the USA. It’s fine if it’s made somewhere else but know where it’s made and understand why it’s there and understand why it’s important to have industry in the United States. It’s not a popular subject. Not a lot of people even know or even care. I think it definitely sets New Balance apart. We have tons of video online showing the people who make the product, from guys who cut the leather to the people who stitch the shoe together, what the factories are like. The important thing I want people to get out of this interview is to know where their product comes from, what “Made In The USA” is all about, and why it’s a cool thing to have.
CK: What is your favorite 99X model?
Nyssen: My two favorites are 996 and 998. The 996, I immediately loved them. They’re classic. Super comfortable. The 998 is kind of a bridge shoe between classic and modern. It’s nice and stable and it’s got some funky design elements like the toe shape. And the sole unit I thought was totally sick on that thing. It had a post on the medial side that went down into the sole unit and it exposed a little piece of Abzorb. The guy who designed it back in the ’90s when I was still in high school left and went somewhere else. Then I started working at New Balance around 2003 and he came back and was my boss. So I got to work with the guy who did one of my favorites shoes.