on August 5, 2010
UPDATE (11/24/14) I wrote this goofy review over 4 years ago and these shoes are still in my closet and still look almost new. Now, I have NOT been wearing them daily for four years...that would be pretty impressive. I've gone over to the lower-profile look of Converse shoes. However, I still think these shoes look pretty good, and compared to my flat-bottomed Converse they have better grip on the soles. During a snowstorm last winter, I went out for groceries and didn't want to drive in the harsh conditions, so I threw on a parka and walked to the store (only a mile away) in these shoes...which worked great for that purpose. To keep with the theme of the original review...I wouldn't recommend climbing Mt. Everest in them, but they are great all-purpose shoes. (Also the color I have is still not pictured here...I'll see about uploading a product photo at some point because you might be able to find that color elsewhere if it suits your fancy).
ORIGINAL (SILLY) REVIEW:
I must say that a large part of the glowing review I'm about to give is due to the color of my shoes, which, incidentally, is not shown among the dozen or so variants available here. My pair of 574's are mostly black, with light grey "N" logos stitched on, a white strip above the sole, white portions by the top lace eyelets, and a PALE YELLOW rear "kick guard" or whatever you'd like the call the plastic strip on the back. This particular combo looks killer, and I don't see it here.
But I digress... Typically, when one goes to buy a casual sneaker, they have two things in mind: Looks and comfort. Sometimes, comfort even comes AFTER looks if you are really bent on your appearance. Versatility and longevity are OFTEN not primary factors. It's a street sneaker; you aren't looking for high-end sprinting performance to rival Usain Bolt, or the ability to wade through crocodile-infested swamps while silently pursuing a band of ruthless mercenaries.
The New Balance 574 delivers soundly in both leading categories of looks and comfort. For the first 20 minutes of wearing them and strolling around, I was alarmed by the awkward feeling they provided, as with every pair of new shoes (particularly New Balance) that I have bought. This quickly subsided as my feet readily accustomed to the shoes, and now they feel like part of my body. So...comfort, check.
And the LOOKS... When I first stumbled across the 574, I had frankly gotten sick of the typical shoe design--lots of cheap "synthetic uppers" made of whatever synthetic material it is they use, and "bling" in the form of gaudy, glued-on plastic trash that usually peeled off after a few weeks and contributed a frenetic, busy appearance reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting. The 574 does away with this nonsense. First off, forget what cliches may exist for suede shoes (especially blue ones), the suede used for the uppers on these is MUCH nicer than the typical "synthetic" [material]. In addition, the shoe is simple (at least mine are, with only neutral tones) and lacks glued-on tidbits, meaning that you won't be leaving a trail of spare parts behind you once the shoes age a bit. The big "N" logos scream "retro" and I think they look pretty cool. I see a lot of folks wearing New Balance shoes, and although all of them are pretty good quality, mine seem unique and a step above the typical "generic" style.
But wait, there's more! So they are comfortable, and look the part. What about those "bonus" features? Well, I haven't gone on a mercenary pursuit lately, but I can say that I jog, cycle, exercise, walk around the kitchen, go to class, go to work, drive, and push cars with these things...no problem. What's more, and this is entirely true, I rode a camel up Mt. Sinai and then walked all the way back down...in these shoes. And they literally look "none the worse for the wear." Seriously, they aren't high-traction hiking shoes, so I slipped a bit on the gravel, and these shoes didn't have a mark on them afterward.
Moral of the story? If you like suede, retro-ish, comfortable, durable, and generally great shoes that don't require a trip to the loan officer at your local bank, then don't hesitate to buy the New Balance M574 sneakers. They really are that good.
on August 2, 2014
8/2/14: Soles have worn down surprisingly quickly, considering I only walk in these shoes, plus the occasional short run just to catch the bus or something. I don't exercise in them at all, and the tread from about the front of my arch all the way to my toes is completely worn flat except maybe about a one-inch wide strip from my big toe back to the arch, where the tread looks fine. This is on both shoes, and is symmetrical.
Update: 9/26/14: The tread under the ball of the foot is completely gone except along the inner edge of both shoes. Right shoe has a hole in the sole, and the foam mid-sole is showing. Left shoe is starting wear through to the foam mid-sole as well. Purchased 3/24/14, so they arrived exactly six months ago today (two-day shipping). They're very comfortable, and I think they look nice, but I wouldn't buy them again for how quickly they wear out. I have never exercised in them, unless you count running like half a block to catch a bus as "exercise." Other than that, I've gone on some long walks, but generally just wear them daily for school, going out, etc. I'll include pictures if I can figure it out.