New Balance’s symbol of quality is its unique factories in the USA and England, from where handmade sneakers of the highest Made in USA and Made in UK product lines go out into the world every day. It is the British series that has now celebrated its 40th anniversary. Its womb, the legendary factory in Flimby, was therefore transformed into one big party for the day, which Footshop couldn’t miss. Read on for first-hand experiences:

No other sneaker brand in the world can brag about something like this. Although New Balance also has factories in countries with cheaper labour, it handcrafts its most famous models at the highest quality in its factories in the United States and England. Originally an American brand started producing the Made in UK series in 1982 and, nine years later, moved it to a factory in the town of Flimby – an archetype of the seaside English countryside with a population of just shy of 2,000 inhabitants.

The celebrations came at a time when New Balance is doing extremely well. Orthodox fans hadn’t taken them off for decades, of course, but with the rise of the dad shoe trend towards the end of the noughties, their frequency on lists of the year’s best releases began to skyrocket. The 2002R and 990 silhouettes are the most frequently mentioned alongside the immortal 574 classics. The dad shoe trend has passed, but the fame and success of New Balance continue to grow. And the anniversary at Flimby is proof of that. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend in person, so in the following lines and paragraphs, our shoe-dog Peter Kovkou Kováč takes the floor to give you a first-hand experience of the place.


After arriving in Manchester and a three-hour bus ride through the beautiful green countryside, we arrived in Flimby. Our accommodation this time was very unusual, in tents pitched right in a field next to a factory, just a few yards from grazing cows. I confess that we had booked an upgrade on the spot in the form of a yurt, which included things like bedside tables and electricity. Big win! The next day started with a factory tour, which was very impressive and partially automated across the board by the skilled professional staff. I remember the factory’s production capacity being around 10,000 pairs per week, which is more than impressive considering that one pair from material cutting to final product takes about 45 minutes to produce.

The event opened with a male choir of local singers who pulled a traditional song dedicated to the Flimby factory from their repertoire.

After visiting the factory, we still had the opportunity to visit the employee outlet, where two paychecks could be easily spent – but lucky me, I didn’t find any sneakers in my size there. Plus, we got a welcome gift from New Balance as a souvenir, so I knew I wasn’t going home empty-handed. My colleague Jose got 3 pairs of Made in UK sneakers in his gift set. There was only one waiting for me, but it was all the more useful – the New Balance Hierro V6 GTX. Useful mainly because the next item on the agenda was a light hike through the beautiful British countryside. 98% of the tour participants were dressed completely from head to toe in Arc’teryx outfits, complete with the aforementioned Gore-Tex trainers. However, I was eventually overcome by the desire to keep the donated sneakers in new condition, so I left them in the box. Instead, I wore the New Balance x Wollrich 997, which soaked up water from all the flora within a 2.5-metre radius of wherever I stepped and are still drying at home. As a result, at least for the evening’s celebration, I pulled out a beautifully clean and mostly dry pair of Gore-Tex sneakers, whose potential was realised especially when I spilt a drink on them around midnight. My feet stayed dry.

The celebration itself was very pleasant and comfortable. The news of Queen Elizabeth’s death did affect the mood, but despite the change in the programme, it exceeded expectations. The event opened with a male choir of local singers who pulled a traditional song dedicated to the Flimby factory from their repertoire, which was moving. When a group of elderly gentlemen in their beautiful new New Balances finished their opening, we moved into the insides of the factory, where a disco ball stood in place of a cutting table and a DJ desk was set up instead of a rack of premium leathers. This particular counter was handled by a very interesting person, an employee of the factory who has worked there since the very beginning – a full 40 years. His selection of music from the 70s and 80s was surprisingly appropriate and perfectly underlined the whole atmosphere. As the dancefloor was getting decent entertainment, down the aisle an archive of the most interesting Made in UK products was presented in the form of various collaborations and other special releases. These included pieces from Patta, Stone Island and many more. At midnight, after the official end of the main program, we moved to the central party tent next to the factory, where we quietly and peacefully (not) drank for the Queen’s way to heaven until about 5 am.

All in all, it was a great experience and I’m glad I can share it with you at least like this, through a few words and a few photos. If you’re interested in more, check out my Instagram profile @kovkou ✌️ Finally, enjoy the parade of beautiful sneakers that made an appearance at the party:

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