New Balance & Staple & size?
Coming together to complete a pigeon-themed trio, Jeff Staple once again works alongside sneaker brand New Balance to create the 577 Black Pigeon...
After the success of Staple’s previous work with NB on the grey and white 575 ‘pigeons’ (in 2008 and 2009 respectively), this third incarnation has been over a year in the making. There are a few differences in comparison to the previous releases, the most obvious of which being that the shoe used on this project is a 577 silhouette. Also for the first time, UK sneaker store size? has entered into the collaboration, adding a third element to the design process.
It was actually size? who came up with the proposal for this third release, discussing ideas with Staple throughtout the production process. The store also helped to create the story behind the collaboration, as their website explains; ‘In the beginning there were three pigeons; one grey, one white and one black in colour. When they were ready, the grey and white pigeons left the roost on their journey to explore their surroundings, the city of New York and the challenges it would bring. The Black Pigeon, however, was the outcast of the family. Kicked out of the nest for being too down-low and dirty he decided to travel the world, setting his mind on eventually meeting up with his elder siblings in The Big Apple. But on his quest, the Black Pigeon became lost. After a long flight, the youngest of the three pigeon brothers set himself down, only he wasn’t in New York; this was London.’
Material-wise the shoe features a robust black leather paneled upper and a honeycombed Ripstop nylon toe-box - a heavy-duty combination that reference the story of the Black Pigeon ‘toughening up on his travels’. This time there is no pigeon imagery on the heel of the shoe, but there is graphic detail on the inside with the left insole showing Staple's iconic pigeon logo and the right insole showing a graphic pigeon ‘dropping’. The outsole, lining and tongue detailing are dashed with warm pink as a reference to a pigeon’s beak/feet.
As shown below, the 11 stores that stocked the initial release of the shoes also gave away a set of three pin badges (including a New Balance logo, a Staple pigeon and a size? question mark) and three of those stores even gave away a very limited edition print.
For those unfamiliar with his previous work, Staple Design founder Jeff Ng (aka Jeff Staple) is no stranger to sneaker collaborations, many of which were featured in the Art & Sole book. The pigeon icon was originally used on a Nike SB Dunk release (from 2005) as part of a 'city' pack (also including shoes representing Paris, Tokyo and London). Staple used the pigeon as a symbol to represent New York, as you can’t go anywhere in the city without seeing one.
Finally, the Black Pigeon is one of several anniversary releases created this year to help celebrate 30 years of New Balance footwear being manufactured at the UK-based Flimby factory. So, in addition to the shoes shown below (shot specifically for Art & Sole), we’ve also included some images of the Black Pigeon on the production line at Flimby (in Cumbria), taken by size? while on a visit to the factory.
Priced at £140, the New Balance & Staple Design & size? Black Pigeon was first released earlier this month, with a global release scheduled for 1 December.
Photography for Art & Sole by James Measom.
New Balance Flimby factory images courtesy of size?