New Balance Grey Day 2023: Up Close with NBplus65 Founder Ben Lau
On the eve of Grey Day 2023, we caught up with @NBplus65 founder Ben Lau and talk all things New Balance and Grey Day.
No other brand is quite as synonymous with the color grey than New Balance. New Balance has been making grey sneakers since the 1980s, and has celebrated this signature color palette with the NB Grey Day every year since 2018.
Its arsenal of grey sneakers has also attracted a new generation of fans, with many bonding over rare silhouettes (Refined Future or “Protection Pack”) and exclusive collaborations (Stone Island and thisisneverthat), forming New Balance groups along the way. To add more heat, the rise of New Balance also coincides with the appointment of Teddy Santis as creative director of the NB MADE in USA line.
In Singapore, ground-up Instagram group @NBplus65 has amassed about 3,800 followers since 2019, with over 5,000 posts with the #nbplus65 hashtag uploaded onto the social platform.
On the eve of Grey Day 2023, we caught up with the group’s founder Ben Lau and delve into all things New Balance and Grey Day.
Tell us more about yourself.
I’m Ben, I’m 43 years old and a freelance video producer who loves traveling.
How did your interest in sneakers begin?
I have been wearing sneakers since young but only really got into the sneaker world in 2017 when I found out more about the New Balance 247. In 2019, New Balance Singapore invited me to the 990v5 launch event and from then on I have been buying MADE shoes.
What was the New Balance sneaker that made you fall in love with the brand?
It was actually an article of a Taiwanese singer Harlem Yu about his collection of New Balances back in the 1990s that got me curious. The first sneaker I bought was probably a New Balance 574.
How many pairs of New Balance sneakers do you own currently?
I’ve stopped counting at 100, which I guess most sneaker heads would do the same. But I do have quite a number of 920, 991, 2002r, 990v3 and 990v2. Contrary to most NB sneakerheads (who love classic grey), I love a good color blocking—colors help reflect my mood for the day.
How did the idea of @nbplus65 come about?
I have been involved with New Balance community-related stuff since 2012. Previously, there was an Instagram group @newbalancesg but it got disabled some time between 2019 and 2020. After months of contemplating with some sneakerhead friends, I decided to fill this void on Instagram to bring fans of NB in Singapore together.
The initial plan was to just round the NB heads together, so that NB will know that they have a group of supporters despite the small market we have here in Singapore. I also hope to highlight more female sneakerheads in Singapore. Surprisingly, the account grew a lot internationally, with folks from South East Asia, Japan, Europe and US started following us.
Did you notice an increase in interest in everything NB-related?
Yes, definitely there is an increase in awareness and popularity of NB, even my own friends have started to rock NB sneakers unknowingly. It is nice to see more New Balance on the streets and the age group of the people wearing NBs getting younger in the past 2 years.
You also meet up with regional NB heads regularly. Any interesting stories to share?
The Thai folks are really passionate about NB. However, it isn’t easy and affordable to get NB models in Bangkok, so NB is pretty big and important for them and they certainly welcome friends who rock NBs too.
I got to meet the Thai NB community twice and, interestingly, our common love for the brand helped us break the ice when we first met. I’ve also had a chance to meet sneakerheads in Taipei, and pretty soon some folks in KL.
Why do you think more and more people are paying attention to New Balance sneakers now? Well, firstly, the hype from various online sneaker magazines on New Balance back in late 2019 and 2020 (when the 992 relaunched) helped get the brand back into the limelight. But I guess this is also when people started to notice the comfort and the premium materials used on most NB shoes—which is something that makes them come back for more.
Which New Balance model are you most excited about this year?
The return of the 990v4. The 990v5 came out when I was getting back into New Balance sneakers, so I didn’t get to truly appreciate the V4 back then.
Grey Day 2023 is an important occasion for NB heads. What’s your favorite model from this year’s Grey Day pack?
The 9060 “Moon Daze” is pretty unique, especially the details on the upper that mimic the moon surface!
Lastly, how is @nbplus65 going to celebrate Grey Day?
This year, there aren’t any pop-up events by New Balance, but we will be having a short gathering at Design Orchard and Kurasu.
Bonus: Keep a look out on the SNKRDUNK International Instagram for an exclusive Grey Day giveaway happening from 12 to 14 May!
Images courtesy of @nbplus65
More SNKRDUNK Interviews:
Air Max Day 2023: From the Eyes of One of its Biggest Fans
Sneakertopia CEO Steve Harris on the Singapore Exhibit, its Future (and Other Things)
Lovers & Solemates: A Vis-à-Vis With Dharni & Weronika