For the unveiling of its latest addition to the New Balance M576 series, New Balance invited Freshness to the city of Shanghai, China for a VIP regional launch event. The special evening saw live performances by Chinese rock band Yuguo (), China's first b-boy team Caster Dance Studio, and among others.
With an increasing global interest on Chinese culture, the design team at New Balance decided to base the new 576 on themes and inspirations taken from masks - essential props/tools in Sichuanese Opera. Similar to its more familiar counterpart, Peking Opera (or Beijing Opera), this ancient craft of utilized masks to propagate a storyline. However, practitioners of Sichuanese Opera must perfect the illusion of Bian Lian (translated as "changing face"), a sleight-of-hand skill where dozens of masks are worn by the actors to achieve the changes of facial expression.
To replicate same depth of colors and dimensions of these masks on the New Balance M576. The designers went with a number of processes. Portion of the upper were embossed with traditional Chinese Opera graphics, while other parts were etched with modernize Chinese patterns. To further the complexity, sections of embroideries were added as well. The design team also didn't skimp over the materials on this special collection, with the application of premium suede, patent leather, and much more.
The China Mask Collection will feature 3 styles - Jing, Mo, and Chou, each in its distinctive and vibrant colorways. A fourth style, the limited edition Wu Shuang (translated as "one of a kind") will be the centerpiece of the collection with only 576 units available worldwide.
Expect the New Balance MT576 - China Mask Collection to roll out toward the end of the Beijing Olympic on August 23rd.
More photos after the jump...
Marco Liang: Designer of the China Mask Collection
Tetsuya Shono: Men's Lifestyle Product Manager (New Balance Japan)
Sato of ATMOS Japan