What Do the Numbers Mean on New Balance Shoes?

New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., a footwear company based in Boston, Massachusetts, has several numbers that are placed on its sneakers. These numbers are used to identify various sneakers as well as track different models.

New Balance Philosophy

The number system is based on the company’s philosophy that no sneaker is the same. With each model being correlated with a different number, New Balance provides a unique and high quality shoe to its consumers.

How the Numbering System Works

New Balance sneakers are classified by two letters, a 2, 3, or a 4-digit model number, and two final numbers. A typical sneaker may read, "MR768WN." The first one or two letters represents the gender and sneaker type, such as "MR," which is short for "Men's Running." The numbers are the model number and the last two letters represent the color/style of the model such as white and navy.

Location of the Numbers

The numbers are stitched or embroidered on the outside of the sneaker, but they can also be located on the inside of the shoe, usually on the back flap of the sneaker.

Redesigned Models

When a shoe is redesigned, the model number is increased by one. This tracks the style of shoe and differentiates each sneaker, which is especially useful when trying to order or a track a particular model.

Different Lasts

A last is a system used for people with different types of feet, such as wide and irregular-sizes. New Balance lasts are located on the insole of all sneakers that read SL-1 or SL-2. The SL-1 last fits the heel, instep, the height of the toe box and average feet. The SL-2 last fits a narrow heel, high instep, deep toe box and wide feet.

Numbers and Shoe Quality

The numbers also reflect the support and quality of the sneaker. In general, the higher numbered sneakers such as the 800-1200 models, will indicate more advanced technologies, features and a higher cost.