Jul 13, 2023
by Sofia de la Cruz
Hemp Takes Center Stage Once Again in New Balance’s 550 Sneaker
by Sofia de la Cruz
Jul 13, 2023

Ask an artist, and they will tell you that a canvas provides the perfect blank space for imagination. Yet if you ask an environmentally conscious designer, they will say that it’s a sustainable material that gaining popularity for good reason.

We’ve recently witnessed how footwear giants, such as adidas and Sean Wotherspoon’s Orketro sneakers, or Albino & Presto and Nike SB’s plant-powered Dunk Lows, can’t seem to get enough of it. It appears that New Balance is also joining this trend, as the brand has given its signature 550 silhouette a hemp treatment for the second time.

The New Balance 550 “Hemp” was initially introduced in March, offering an ’80s basketball aesthetic reimagined with a textile construction that deviates from the typical use of leather and suede. The silhouette is completed with a minimalist hemp upper that showcases a natural palette.

History seems to be repeating itself today, as the Boston-based footwear brand is giving its beloved sneaker yet another nature-inspired makeover, this time with a slightly more colorful twist.

The “Plum Canvas” iteration of the 550 also features a construction made entirely of canvas, from the vamp to the heel counter, tongue construction, and the entire upper. However, this time, the shoe is dressed in a dark “Plum” hue, achieved through a clad-canvas composition.

The mid-foot N logos, with their rounded shape, sport a textured brushed finish that enhances the overall rugged appearance. Additionally, the shoe’s upper is adorned with light purple shades that match the laces, collar lining, and rubber heel clip. The black accents on the shoe’s logos stand out against the purple background. Finally, the shoe is finished with a clean white midsole and a traditional gum tread.

In case you didn’t know, the shoe was originally released in 1989 under the name “P550 Basketball Oxford.” This low-top silhouette was designed with premium smooth and perforated leather uppers, aiming to become a popular and functional basketball shoe.

Today, as the shoe has transitioned into a more street-style choice, it’s understandable why the silhouette is being experimented with using unconventional materials that are not typically associated with basketball courts.

Hemp seems to be having a moment in the footwear industry, and we are delighted to see it, as it is one of the least harmful materials to the environment. According to Going Zero Waste, hemp crops require minimal water to grow and help replenish soil nutrients, improving soil health.

Additionally, hemp is biodegradable and known for its durability as a textile fabric. Even though new 550 shoe releases are frequent, we hope that the footwear label continues to explore materials like hemp.

The New Balance 550 “Plum Canvas” is expected to be available in the coming months through New Balance’s website and select retailers, with a retail price of $120 USD. Take a closer look at the silhouette in the gallery above.

While you’re here, take a look at best new planet-friendlier footwear you might have missed.