New Balance 992 Seersucker: A Lot of Shoe for a Lot of Money
- Price: $175 Retail [$210 resale]
- Why Buy? – Unique style, high end materials
- Why Avoid? – High price for a 992, look takes commitment
|Colorway||Blue Teal Rose / Seersucker|
|Weight||529 g / 1.17 lb|
|Materials||Pigskin Suede / Manmade Panels / EVA foam|
|Country of Origin||United States of America|
The New Balance 992 Seersucker, also known as the 992NT or Blue Teal Rose, is one of the flagship shoes in the brand’s Made-in-America line.
This line is one of the things that really sets New Balance apart. Sure, there are Nikes or Adidas that we all appreciate, but New Balance is the only brand making sneakers that are both making sneakers in countries with high labor standards, and making sneakers that carry some hype.
This review is an update on how this particular pair of New Balance 992 Seersuckers have held up after 100 wears. If you’d like to check out the initial review, including some additional history on the New Balance brand, click here. If you’re interested in how we get to 100 wears, click here.
These shoes have really seen it all. Rain, snow, sun, travel and more. So, how did they hold up after more than 100 wears and 100 miles? Let’s find out.
The upper of this shoe is made up of a variety of different panels, different materials, and different colors. Nobody would accuse this shoe of being subtle. The teal patterns around the base of the upper come in a soft suede, the navy is partly suede and partly a man-made material, the pink is a metallic mesh, and the back is a striped cloth: giving the New Balance 992 Seersucker their name.
These different patterns are further accented by reflective hits on the “N” logo, the grey “USA” badging on the tongue and heel, and on the white “992” badge on the back corner. They combine to a shoe that stands out. It’s a bright shoe, and it owns it.
That being said, I found these much more wearable than I actually thought. They pair perfectly with khaki or navy-colored chinos. The Seersucker on them definitely leans into the preppy aesthetic – but leaning into it really brings these shoes alive.
For the most part, the upper on these shoes have held up really well. The suede has gotten a bit more nap to it with wear, which is a look I prefer. As with all suedes, though, it isn’t the most durable. Where it has gotten wet (check around the toe in pictures), there is some discoloration. It’s also not easy to clean, but we’ll get more into that later.
There is one major letdown on the upper and that is the non-suede blue panels. They are awful, looking more like cardboard than anything else. These panels have creased, bent, and discolored. They really let down an otherwise outstanding package. Stitching was a problem when new, and while it hasn’t gotten significantly worse, it is still notably bad.
Mid- and Outsole:
Visually, the mid-and outsole of the New Balance 992 Seersucker has held up amazingly well. Honestly, based entirely on the bottom of this shoe, you could have told me it had 10 wears on it, instead of 100.
The midsole, which comes in a white up front, a cream in the back, with pink and translucent hits throughout, has absolutely no signs of creasing. Other than a bit grease I wasn’t able to clean off, the only way you can tell these have been worn is the translucent panels are starting to get a bit dingy.
Underneath is more of the same. Wear on the outsole is extremely minimal. Pretty much the only sign of wear is the faint diamond pattern starting to rub off on the heel and ball of the foot.
Visually, the bottom of the shoe has held up in an outstanding way.
Taking a step back and looking at the whole, the shoe actually changed shape. When you first take them out of the box the shoe is fairly flat, but gets a distinct curve after a bit of wear.
Personally, I much prefer the worn in shape. It screams retro runner in a way they don’t out of the box.
Fit & Comfort:
While initially pretty tight, the New Balance 992 Seersucker stretched out significantly after a bit of wear. While the size 13 I bought was originally slightly too small, I now think they border on slightly too big. The natural materials mean that this shoe stretches as much as any sneaker I’ve ever owned. If they offered it, I think that a 12.5 would be a better fit, but a 12 would definitely have been too narrow. For reference, I wear a size 13 in Jordan 1s and a size 12.5 in Stan Smiths.
For a full sizing list of all the shoes we have reviewed, click here.
Speaking of narrow, even after a lot of wears these shoes definitely fit like athletic shoes – long and narrow.
From a comfort perspective, though, I find that what I said last year is still true. These shoes can’t rely on modern tech like boost or react, the engineers needed to find a way to make fairly hard foams comfortable. This results in a shoe that is incredibly supportive, if not entirely plush.
The different colors on the midsole actually represent different densities of foam. The more worn in the shoe gets, the more you can feel it. If I’m going to be on my feet all day, these are right at the top of sneakers that I reach for.
The upper is also extremely comfortable. It’s stretchy without feeling like a sock, breathable, and supportive. I’m sure designs like these are more expensive to make, so brands are moving away from them, but they are great if you have them.
Materials & Construction:
Other than a few notable exceptions already mentioned – such as the horrible blue panels on the upper – the materials on the New Balance 992 Seersucker really knock it out of the park. The suede on the upper is actually pigskin, rather than traditional cow suede. This means the shoe is much softer right off the bat. I do wish New Balance would be clearer about this, though. They don’t mention it at all on their website, and plenty of people need to avoid this material for religious or other reasons.
Elsewhere, most of the panels on the upper are man-made materials, including the pink mesh. For the most part, these have held up well from a durability perspective. One area I was originally concerned with was the Seersucker panels themselves. Thankfully, these still look brand new. I’ve found they are high enough up and far enough back that they don’t get the grime the rest of the shoe might see.
Underfoot, the dual density foam is an EVA blend with ABZORB sections built in. EVA has a tendency to bottom out over time, but since New Balance went with a fairly dense blend here that has not been the case yet. In fact, it feels even better now than it did when new.
Rounding out the shoe, the Ndurance rubber on the bottom has been extremely durable. There is hardly any wear at all. Even with the mostly high-quality materials on the upper, the upper is still more likely to fail before these do.
I do have one major gripe with the design of this shoe, however. The shoelaces are comically long. Tying the shoes normally will result in both the loops and strings dragging on the ground. I feel like a kindergartener walking to class with these laces if I don’t double knot them. This is on a size 13! I can’t image how a smaller size uses the included laces.
These shoes are held together with cemented construction, and have no stitching. This isn’t the end of the world, and is pretty typical of a running shoe, but it is a shame. With such durable materials, it would have been nice to see something to make sure the construction lasted as long as the upper and outsole.
Ease of Care:
This is easy. If you’re the type of person who wants to make sure your shoes look clean, stay far away from the New Balance 992 Seersucker. Some of the stains – like the black grease stain on both shoes picked up in a loaner car – are completely uncleanable no matter what you use. More minor stains can come out with a suede or nubuck cleaner, but take some of the color off with them.
The other materials on the shoe are a bit easier. The pink materials, on both the N and the mesh, wipe down easily with water, and the pressed-board blue and white panels clean off with traditional cleaning materials. Resheven8r is fine, but so are all the other shoe cleaners for half the price.
The outsole, like always, is a much easier case. Other than the obvious fact that white midsoles will never be crisp once you wear them, they clean up extremely easy.
Pricing & Value:
Originally priced at $174.99, these shoes fell in line with typical New Balance 992 pricing. Since buying them, the shoes briefly went up a bit on the resale market – getting over $300 in some sizes – but at the time of writing, most of the sales over the last six months have been between $210 and $230. This puts them on the higher end of the price spectrum for non-collaboration 992s.
New Balance must agree that these are worth a bit extra as well. I’ve seen B-grades of these in a few New Balance outlets selling for a huge discount of $5 dollars off retail with some pretty noticeable flaws.
Other shoes in the retro runner category – like the Nike Air Max 90 or the Adidas ZX-8000 – sell for a lot less, both at retail and in resell.
The value proposition for this shoe is going to come down to two things. First, does this sort of hyper-preppy style work for you. Second, how much value to you put into products made in the USA?
On the style, I can’t think of any shoe that leans this hard into this look. These shoes would be just as at home next to a pair of LL Bean Bean Boots and Sperrys as they would next to some Jordan 1s and Yeezys. For a certain person, like those nut jobs who have a review website that covers all of these, this is the perfect blend of these worlds. They offer a streetwear vibe to a preppy outfit, and a preppy vibe to a streetwear outfit in a way that no other shoe I’ve ever seen can.
Further, making products in the USA, especially products with higher end materials, is expensive. By any measure, $175 for a pair of sneakers is a lot of money. That being said, putting this shoe next to the $175 Jordan 1 made in a sweatshop where they pay workers $2 an hour, you can see why Nike prints money in a way New Balance doesn’t.
If these are important to you, then these shoes are a good deal at $175, and a good deal at $210 resale pricing. However, if you don’t want both of these, you can find other shoes that meet one of them.
In the year since I first bought these, the New Balance 992 Seersucker has been one of my most worn pairs of shoes. It’s supportive, comfortable, and fits in just as well at a country club as it does downtown.
That doesn’t mean there are not draw backs. There are certain places where New Balance cut corners, and the price is a lot – even for a 992.
If you’re looking for something that has this vibe, though, there really isn’t a better option out there.
Like bright sneakers?
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