Behind the Real Ale Pack by New Balance - An Interview with the Team |
Behind the Real Ale Pack by New Balance - An Interview with the Team

Behind the Real Ale Pack by New Balance - An Interview with the Team

By now it's well known - "Real Ale" is a unique pack with a story that only New Balance can tell. We wanted to learn more about it, from an insider's perspective. That's why we spoke to the team responsible for it. We interviewed designer Marc Godfre, footwear developer Chris Hodgson and factory manager Andy Okolowicz. Here's what they had to say.

What was the original inspiration for the Real Ale Pack?
Marc Godfre: The idea of the pack is now well established, but we started doing it a few years ago, before it became mainstream. And we've always tried to use the quintessential English culture. About five years ago we did the Pub Pack, and we see Real Ale as an evolution of that.

Why pub culture?
Marc Godfre: Well, we could relate what we do here at New Balance to craftsmanship and how long it takes to learn a process like that. What it takes to perfect a process like shoemaking, like we do, and what it takes to make real beer. For us, those are two things that take a lifetime to really learn. And to do them well.
How do the beers in this package translate?
Marc Godfre: As you can see, the CT300 here is a kind of golden pale ale. The 576 is based on a darker, almost strong beer. And the 1500 is a red amber ale. So there's a direct colour direction from there.

The pack was made in Flimby - why?
Chris Hodgson: The reason we're here is because we have access to the best materials in the world. The best leathers, the best suedes are all made in Europe. That is our only advantage. In addition to the fact that the guys out there are 20 times better than anyone else in the world.

How different is the production process in Flimby from the factories New Balance has in the US?
Marc: I think the factory in Skowhegan, up in Maine, was also founded in 1982. We started production here the same year. So in terms of age, the factories are very similar.
Andy Okolowicz: Our factories are actually very similar. But each factory within the New Balance organisation has its own footprint, its own look. I think in Flimby we have developed a look to the shoes that is quite unique.
Chris Hodgson: I think we tend to use slightly softer materials in general, and we have a lot of people here with a lot of experience in making shoes. Our people have been in the industry for 40 years, long before they came to New Balance.

What do you think has worked best for the Real Ale Pack?
Marc Godfre: I think the colours are very, very strong. And the pigskin that we used is premium, really luxurious pigskin. The quality is great and the story goes very well with the colours.

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to producing shoes in England?
Marc Godfre: We try to source as many materials as possible from the UK and Europe. So it's always a big challenge to find what we need in the region. A lot of people would go to Asia to find what they need.

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