Back in 2020, the New Balance hype was nowhere near the levels that they're currently at today. Once a brand made for dads mowing their lawns and firing up the Sunday BBQ, it's now the most popular choice among Gen Z sneakerheads and fashion's coolest kids. But how did the Boston-based sportswear company go from zero to hero in such a short amount of time? Well, the answer lies with the now-legendary New Balance 2002R "Protection Pack."
Originally released in 2010 as the successor to the technically impressive but decidedly ugly 2001, the 2002R was the quintessential chunky shoe. With an over-designed aesthetic and beefy proportions, the silhouette was particularly admired with light joggers, but everyone else? Not so much. To celebrate its tenth anniversary, New Balance brought the model back in 2020. It took a while, but sneakerheads kinda liked the look of it, with some of the first colorways selling quite quickly at retailers across the globe. That said, its hype didn't skyrocket until one year later, when the "Protection Pack" was introduced.
The brainchild of footwear designer Yue Wu, the "Protection Pack" took the old school model and gave it a new school makeover. Originally named the "Refined Future" collection, absolutely everything was upgraded. The original leather and mesh construction was now elevated with premium suede, and the panels had also been reworked with jagged edges and rough trims for a delightfully deconstructed vibe.
The "Protection Pack" was also described as a modern day artifact, with a pre-aged ABZORB midsole and pre-yellowed accenting for a look that's taken straight from the archives. They also came in a vast range of coveted colorways, including the "Phantom," "Sea Salt," and of course, the "Rain Cloud," which was the pair that made New Balance as hyped as it is today. All of a sudden, every single sneakerhead wanted some NBs in their rotation, and to keep up with the wild demand, the "Orange," "Pink," and "Purple" were also introduced, quickly making their way to collections across the world. The special "Lunar New Year" edition also proved big, especially here in Asia.
While you might be a little worried because they're made from suede, this material is actually a lot easier to look after than you think. All you need is a suede brush, an eraser, and a microfiber cloth and your suede sneakers will be looking boxfresh in no time. For tougher stains like oil or grease, add a bit of corn starch, and for sticky substances like chewing gum, put your shoes in the freezer until it hardens and peel it off. It's really that simple.
In terms of what you can wear with the "Protection Pack," the beauty of it is that it's so versatile. Unlike the classic pair that places more of a focus on athleisure and sports, the "Protection Pack" is more of a streetwear sneaker. That means you can slip on an Off-White T-shirt, layer it with a Supreme hoodie, and some Carhartt WIP cargos and you'll look awesome. Another cool idea is an oversized Palace sweater and ripped denim jeans from Fear Of God. The possibilities are endless.
And that's just some of the reasons why every single sneakerhead needs the New Balance 2002R "Protection Pack" in their collection! From the luxurious construction to the vintage-inspired details, while the "Protection Pack" is certainly more expensive than the standard version, it's totally worth it. Set to go down in history as one of the hottest collections of all-time, make sure you secure your size right now before someone else does!