I've been putting the fresh New Balance NewSkys through their paces these last couple weeks, and I have nothing but good things to say about them.
First, and most importantly to the vast percentage of consumers out there, they look great. They come in a number of neoney highlight colors (blue, as here, yellow, which is my fave, and pink for women, and red and white for men), which contrast nicely with the fuzzy grey of the shoe itself. It's a slim, elegant, minimal design, perfect for pairing with skinny jeans or leggings, and also designed to keep a relatively thin layer of materials between your foot and the earth.
This has to do not only with the currently popular styles of pants, but with the growing research that indicates running or walking in highly padded, structured shoes is probably worse for the health of our feet than the behemoths most of us have been running around in for the last 20 years. Turns out that our feet didn't evolve with shoes, and especially not over-engineered sneakers. Throughout human history, human beings have locomoted wearing shoes that simply protected the feet from cold or sharp rocks: Studies have shown that people who run barefooot (or nearly so) have many fewer knee, back and other running-related injuries. (To read more about the evidence for barefoot running, check out this recently published article from the NY Times Magazine by Christropher McDougall, who has literally written the book on barefoot marathoning).
Last, but not least, to the sustainably minded runner (or sneaker lover) is the fact that the NewSkys are made from 95 percent recycled PET (from plastic bottles). According to their site, "Bottles are chopped into flakes, heated, and molded into fiber, creating a strong, versatile fabric. It takes only about 12 bottles to produce one pound of fiber and only about eight bottles to create an average pair of newSKY shoes." This polyester, called Eco-fi, is lighter than cotton, and warmer than wool (which is resembles) or nylon. It's also quite strong, and can be recycled at end of life.
I definitely noticed the light weight of these sneakers, and as I now run using the barefoot running technique (one lands on the ball of the foot and rolls back, rather than on the heel, which is very impactful on the leg), I found these sneakers to be a great complement, with a thin, but still-comfortable footbed. I've also found myself wearing them around town, pairing them with jeans and once a narrow skirt, so some crossover style is possible. The only drawback I found is that one really needs to be careful negotiation puddles in low-to-the-ground sneaks, but at the same time, it's also easier to jump over them in shoes like these.
Disclaimer: New Balance sent me a pair of the NewSky sneakers gratis, but my opinions here are my own.