字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 Fabiana Buontempo: What do tennis star Coco Gauff, NBA MVP Kawhi Leonard, and Liverpool soccer great Sadio Mané have in common? They all wear New Balances on the court and on the field. You don't have to be a sneakerhead to know that New Balances weren't always considered the "cool shoe." But somehow, despite steep competition, New Balance has entered the conversation. Reportedly, from 2010 to 2018, sales jumped by more than 100%, at a time when athleisure was making the biggest dent in the shoe market. So why are athletes across the sports spectrum flocking to New Balance now? The answer lies in the shoes' soles and the attention to detail in their manufacturing. I traveled to New Balance's Lawrence, Massachusetts, facility to learn what goes into the process. Manny Gomes, the mechanic supervisor at the facility, showed me the precision that goes into making the sneakers here. Making a New Balance sneaker takes 50 to 60 steps, and work is divided into four stations: the prep station, initial stitching, hand-stitching, and the assembly station. It's at the fourth station where the soles get attached to the rest of the shoe, and it's something New Balance has been working on since the beginning. The company started in 1906 by selling arch supports, which became so popular among athletes that they asked for sneakers tailored to their feet. But the company wouldn't release its first pair of sneakers until years later. When it did start selling sneakers, New Balance mostly chose not to rely on celebrity endorsements, as the brand wanted its sneaker to speak for itself. It went so far as to make its mantra "Endorsed by No One," all the while improving the sole and the shoe's overall comfort. But before the sole is ever added, the work begins at the first station. This is where fabrics are cut into different parts of the shoe. So, how exactly does the machine for the cutting work? Manny Gomes: This is the vamp die; it's gonna cut off the vamp of the shoe. What the cutter's gonna do is they're going to place it on this webbed material. They're going to cut it. They're gonna flip it around so they can just try to get their spacing as tight as possible and work their way down. Fabiana: This station is where small but mighty details of the shoe come together, such as sticking on sizing and model labels. Next is the initial-stitching station. During this step, workers use a technique called flat stitching, which is crucial to making the shoes long-lasting. Individual stitches are made without crossing or looping the thread. They use this stitching technique because flat stitching doesn't leave any raw edges but creates a durable double row of stitching. This is important because this is the body of the shoe, where most of the wear and tear happens. Here, the employee takes the cut-out pieces of fabric and places them onto large yellow pallets. They line up the pieces and close the yellow pallet's lid to begin the stitching. Once stitching is complete on a part of the shoe, an employee will send that part down the assembly line. The famous N gets stitched onto the shoe during this step. Now it's time for the hand-stitching part of the process. The upper portion of the shoe is almost done at this point. But why hand-stitch in this phase? Turns out, the stitching in this station is more intricate and requires the guidance of a human hand. Manny: Stitching is very complicated. Sometimes we'll have a skipped stitch, and what happens is the operator will stop, give it to the team leader, team leader will give it to the repair person, they'll fix that skipped stitch, put it back in process, and continue. Fabiana: The final step is assembling and finishing the sneakers. First, the upper is pulled onto a shoe last, which performs the job of a foot in a shoe, and that gives it its final shape. The upper and the sole are then heated in a little tunnel. From there, they go into a press machine, which permanently bonds the two parts together. Speaking of the sole, it's something of an engineering marvel. Traditional soles can be narrow and unsupportive, leading to all kinds of foot problems, like plantar fasciitis. And if they can't hold up to the rigors of a sport, it can be a nightmare for a sneaker brand. New Balance widens the toe box. That extra room helps the foot be more stable. Plus, New Balance gives its sneakers a thick midsole, making them more comfortable and shock-absorbent. But it's not one-size-fits-all when it comes to the soles. The numbers in each New Balance sneaker name indicate what type of activity the shoe is for and the type of support it offers. For example, if the name has a 40 in it, like the New Balance 940 or 1540 shoes, it's designed to offer control, stability, and cushioning perfect for running. Different numbers mean a different sole. To finish the process, the New Balance sneaker gets a final inspection, and if all is well, it's packed up in its box, soon making its way to a store. Other shoe brands may still have the upper hand in terms of sales and cultural cachet, but there's no doubt that more athletes and customers are taking notice of New Balance.