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Brand: BEAUTY & YOUTH UNITED ARROWS x New Balance

Buy: UNITED ARROWS‘ site and stores for ¥8,250 (about $74).

Editor’s Notes: Countless famous folks have pitched for footwear brands over the decades, from the very influential to the very famous to the very unexpected. You could argue for days about the best in the biz but, to me, no one really did it much better than Ma and Pa Balance, the senior stars of some mid-’70s New Balance campaigns.

Always accompanied by the slogan “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Ma and Pa appeared in only a few ads for the sneaker company but that’s all it took. Seeing them styled in NB 320s and what might’ve been their own clothes (plus some groceries) really hit that sweet spot of effortless vintage cool. It’s no wonder that retro-obsessed Aimé Leon Dore recreated the Ma and Pa ads for its 827 sneaker collab.

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In partnership with New Balance Japan’s 9BOX project, which creates playful NB-branded graphic tees for the domestic market, UNITED ARROWS‘ BEAUTY & YOUTH is reviving two classic Ma and Pa images atop two exclusive shirts. The white long-sleeves feature the iconic elderly style icons on the rear, complete with the slogan and retro branding, and old-school “The Intelligent Choice” verbiage (more ALD inspo!) at the front chest.

Alongside Ma and Pa, there’s another thematic tee design that borrows an image from NB’s centenary in 2006, highlighting 24 notable sneakers from the brands’ history. It’s cool, but maybe not as cool as the other ones, though that’s pure bias on my part. Oh, and lest we forget T-shirt itself, which is also pretty interesting: it’s cut from a techy NB polyester that’s quick-drying, sweat-wicking, anti-pilling, and still boasts a soft cotton-y feel.

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