Boston Makes the World’s Running Shoes

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Running shoes

Photo by Emily Sotomayor

To grasp Boston’s dominance in the footwear industry, all you have to do is drive into the city.

Off the Mass. Pike, you’ll find New Balance’s futuristic Brighton headquarters. Visible from I-93, there’s Converse’s old-meets-new Lovejoy Wharf building. Saucony’s Waltham home base is within spitting distance of I-95. The city is virtually surrounded.

To understand why Greater Boston has become a global sneaker hub, you have to look to the past: specifically, to the mills and factories that once dotted the region. “There’s been a long history of New England being a manufacturing hub in materials that lend itself to the shoe business,” explains former footwear exec and Boston University marketing lecturer Patricia Hambrick. These days, most production has been outsourced, but heritage brands and scrappy startups alike continue to set up shop around here. “That combination of history, sports culture, and employee base,” Hambrick says, “makes it a really great place to be.”

Need evidence? The proof’s in the (local) kicks.

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