New Balance, Sneakers

What Makes a New Balance Teddy Santis

Teddy Santis

Teddy Santis has made a major mark on the sneaker world. The founder of Aimé Leon Dore, also referred to as ALD, Teddy is one of the main reasons that New Balance is as big as it is today. Taking unknown sneakers, doing collabs on them, and turning them into some of the hottest items out there. He’s probably the only reason you know about models like the 827.

In fact, he’s almost certainly the main reason why anyone knows about the 550. When he asked to do a collab on them, even New Balance themselves didn’t have records on them. They had to recreate the patterns and tooling based on pictures that Teddy had found.

The ability to capture the eyes of sneakerheads wasn’t lost on the footwear brand from Massachusetts. After the way he catapulted the brand through collabs, New Balance hired Teddy as their creative director for their US-made line.

However, while this is great for just about everyone, it can lead to some confusion. Teddy leads all of their US-made footwear. It includes GR releases, but also “Teddy Santis” branded models. Even more confusing, the ALD collabs didn’t stop. It would be easy to forgive someone for ask: if he’s involved in all of the sneakers, what makes one a “Teddy Santis” model?

Today, we will answer that question.



New Balance 990v1 Base and 990v1 Teddy Santis

When creating New Balance Teddy Santis models, there is one phrase they keep throwing around.

Elevated basics.

The idea is to take the brand’s classic designs and elevate them in a way to appeal to new markets. Notably this is a break from what ALD originally set out to do with their collabs, which was to bring older forgotten sneakers back into the discussion.

You can see this even in recent collabs. Where ALD gets models like the 1906R, Rainier Boot, and 650; Teddy Santis branded models include the 990v1 and v3. Go back to 2021 and tell me how many of you actually knew about the Rainer or 650 vs. the 990.


Different Linings

Another change you’ll find in the New Balance Teddy Santis models is different materials than your normal New Balance models. This can manifest itself in a few ways, but there are three common threads.


First, the sneakers will see the pig suede that New Balance is known for replaced. Typically, this will be with extremely furry cow suede, but occasionally with smooth out leather as well. I’ve always been a fan of New Balance’s materials, but for most people this will be an upgrade in both style and look. It also opens up the models to sneakerheads who can’t wear pig-based prodcuts.

Second, Teddy Santis models get a more robust mesh in between those leather panels. To be honest, I’ve never had a sneaker’s mesh panel rip. The outsole, sure. Cloth for special models that replace mesh? Absolutely. But not the polyester mesh. However, if you have had this happen, you’re going to be better off with one of these.

Pleather vs. Leather

Finally, and the one I like the most, in almost every sneaker – including New Balances – the smaller panels are almost never real leather. Things like the “N” logo on the side, or the panel around the heel cap. More often than not these are going to be made of a foam/plastic mix. Teddy Santis models often use real leather here, or at least plastic-coated leather similar to what Nike and Adidas use on their sneakers.


Cool, but probably on sale near you right now

New Balance models that carry the Teddy Santis name don’t get all those upgrades for free. In general, you can expect to pay around $15 to $20 more for a sneaker labeled New Balance Teddy Santis.

Even in a vacuum, I don’t think that is an unreasonable ask. The upgraded materials probably account for nearly all of that price difference, and the brand likely needs to pay the designer a small charge to use his name. Of course, it isn’t like the original 990 is made of cardboard, but for those who care about materials the difference is noticeable.


However, the reality is that there are a whole lot of people who want grey New Balances, and a lot fewer who want bright green or purple. While it isn’t the case with everything he designs, if you don’t have your heart set on a specific make-up it’s very easy to find his designs on deep discounts.

Should You Buy a New Balance Teddy Santis

Well, should you buy a pair of New Balance Teddy Santis? If you like the design, I don’t see any reason why not.

Teddy isn’t just a famous designer, but he clearly has a passion for New Balance. He was educating them about their own products. The best things always come from people who are not just forced to do a job, but want to make the best thing they can.

Sure, they are priced a bit higher. And, sure, if you like to flip in and out of sneakers you probably won’t make money on resale. If that’s your goal, the JJJJound or Selehe Bembery collabs are more what you’re looking for.

However, if you just want to get a pair of sneakers from a guy who loves them just as much as you do, this is a great option.