New Balance calls the 574 Fresh Foam a “casual lifestyle runner,” but that belies just how much of a real running shoe they’ve crammed into the iconic 574 design. The 574, around since 1988, has always looked good. It’s also always had running DNA in its soles, being partially descended from running shoes. The Fresh Foam improves upon that legacy by adding new technology, like a single-piece midsole (the eponymous “Fresh Foam”) that improves ride and comfort. This is a complete shoe: its timeless design is stylish without being flashy, and it’s comfortable for everyday use while remaining an excellent running shoe. It’s a shoe that you can wear with most outfits as well as train in. By doubling down on its running heritage, New Balance has made one of the best shoes of the year.


Series Age: 27 years
Midsole: Single-piece fresh foam
Upper: Synthetic/mesh
Top Speed: Depends on the runner