Pin It
New Balance Sneaker
Courtesy of New Balance

Meet the young designer behind New Balance’s latest sneaker

Adara Dillabaugh’s space-inspired design launches this weekend

When you consider what it means to be a design apprentice, what immediately springs to mind? For many it’s likely to be the idea of endless coffee runs and photocopying: but when it comes to those undertaking placements at New Balance, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth – just ask Adara Dillabaugh. At just 23, the talented apprentice has teamed up with the legendary footwear label to release her own sneaker style, as part of its ongoing <TEST_RUN> program.

Due to be launched this Saturday, the wheels were first set in motion last summer, when Dillabaugh impressed the office with her own ‘cool, casual’ styling of New Balance trainers. The idea of her pitching was suggested by the team, and from that moment onwards she says the process ran without a hitch. “We didn’t make any changes to the sketches I presented,” she explains. “The first prototype was spot on.”  

When it came to inspiration, she dug deep into an image bank full of ‘space-related goodies’ to come up with a slick, futuristic design based around the brand’s signature Fresh Foam midsole. “When I saw it for the first time I just kept thinking, ‘it looks like a moon boot!’ So when I got assigned to create a new upper I had to echo the retro space vibes I was getting.” Her timing couldn’t have been more perfect – incidentally, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first ever moon landing.

“I’ve learned more over the past couple of months than I did in my four years at design school. The best way to learn about something is to actually go and do it!” – Adara Dillabaugh

Adara explains that she’s injected plenty of her own personality into the design. The space theme? It’s been on her mind since childhood. “Sorry Woody, but my Buzz Lightyear action figure was always my favourite toy as a kid,” she jokes. “Maybe that’s where the original inspiration came from….”

This tongue-in-cheek approach sets Adara apart, as does the fact that she is – as cliché as it has become to say – a young woman thriving in a male-dominated industry. “In my experience there have definitely been more men in the workplace,” she says. “This has been a reality in my life for a while though. I think it’s less something I cope with, and more something I hope to see change over the course of my career. I think the sneaker industry could certainly benefit from a stronger female presence.”

As for her advice to anyone tempted by an apprenticeship? “Go for it,” she encourages. “I’ve learned more over the past couple of months than I did in my four years at design school. The best way to learn about something is to actually go and do it!”