Sneaker + “Customization” Review: Primitive x New Balance 212 “Global Friends”

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Even if I messed up these sneakers, these will always be special to me, and is somewhat of an unexpected collaboration that you would want to know about. As you can see by the video thumbnail below and title, I do unbox, review, and shoe an on feet look at this very clean colourway of this collaboration between a premier skate/streetwear brand and a sneaker giant. We will get into all of that in the video and for further information, read below including more context to my “customization”!


Primitive Skate

As stated in the video, this collaboration seemed unexpected to me at first, but after doing more research it is very strategic. For me, I am not a skater and I am not as invested in the culture but I do have a strong appreciation for skaters and the skate culture (wish I could skate). Nonetheless, I really liked this sneaker for who the collaborator is, Primitive, and the aesthetic elements, if you haven’t heard of them definitely check them out because I love their apparel! However, when I think of Primitive, I think of the founder and legendary skater, Paul Rodriguez (P-Rod). P-Rod is essential to the rise and foundation of Nike SB, and has released many signature sneakers with them (I do own one) so I was surprised about the New Balance collab. However, I realized that the popular skater Tiago Lemos who is a Primitive Skater is one of the biggest skaters for New Balance, which made me realize that both Primitive & New Balance have a lot of overlap of skaters on both brands. After I did the video I realized that Tiago’s 1010 sneaker actually released right before this one to launch this partnership which also eventually included a 574!

Aesthetic & Design

Another thing I mentioned in this video is that something I have noticed with New Balance collaborations, the collaborator seems limited in what they can do with the sneaker. I say that because sure the colourway and materials can be altered but there is very minimal branding. That’s why when unboxing these I was disappointed that the box and paper was pretty standard. The navy and gold colourway is always a nice touch and makes the sneaker aesthetic clean. However, something I love about Primitive is how much detail they put into their clothing with so much design and graphics at the forefront. That’s why I was disappointed that they just kept it minimal with the branding you would see on the sides of the sneakers and hidden for a nice surprise under the velco straps. The best thing in terms of the branding and design would be the sock liner/insole as they have a global passport theme with subtle branding. This does go with theme of global friends but I also think it is because of Primitive having global skaters and global influence.

In terms of materials and design, there’s various notable components the most being that it is a velcro. The second would be it is predominately canvas but the near the toe area you do see nice blue suede. You will also see leather on the heel and the New Balance logo. A very cool detail is that the tongue has the cutout/distressed feel to it which seems to be a popular trend on sneakers recently. You would also notice that the outsole is a rubber gum with a nice traction similar to classic basketball sneakers.

Size, Fit, Comfort

In terms of sizing I went true to size, and I would recommend the same if you are slightly widefoot. I am sure you can play around with sizing with the velcros but I feel that .5 down might be a little too snug while a .5 up might be a little loose. In terms of comfort, don’t expect much but I have walked around in these for long periods of time throughout 2-3 weeks and I would say comfort is decent. I think that is because of the little cushioning you would see when I take out the insole.

Price and Place of Purchase

So I did buy this sneaker from Primitive because there was a 20% sale but unfortunately it has been sold out there. However, you can still grab your pair from New Balance directly and make sure you look out for student discounts or promotional sales to grab these for a lower price than the $129.99 CAD!


New Era


Prior to going into the details of the customization, I want to talk about a main reason why I bought these sneakers. These sneakers made me reminiscent of my undergraduate at Ryerson University. One of the organizations I was part of was HRSA, and for social media I wanted to create something called HRSAP with the “P” being interchangeable for passion, perspective, and perseverance. I often used the social media series that focuses on one of those P’s with the it being somewhat related to HR. The main reason why I even got that idea is because I used those interchangeable P’s to overcome some difficult personal challenges at the time. I still use those today to keep fighting and overcome other obstacles.


I used the marker above for the customization. Since it is a canvas upper that I was customizing my research kept referring me to a canvas marker. I got this from Michael’s but I am glad I was able to find you this exact marker on Amazon for you if you are interested. The marker is pretty good just make sure you are pressing it down for some time so the ink starts flowing. The marker is really easy to use but it does dries easy so you may need to do more than one layer. One piece of advice I should have done was measure the space and practice on a piece of paper. You can clearly see which shoe was done first and which was done after. Nonetheless, it is all trial and error, and it wasn’t a big customization but it was something I always wanted to do so I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.


Cop or drop? Cop. Customization or not, this is a solid pair of sneakers and one of the best grown velcro sneakers I have seen.

Comfort? Somewhat Comfortable. The insole gives some comfort, more than what you will expect and it won’t provide any strains.

Aesthetic? I don’t think it will stand out when you are wearing it, but it is a very clean with a nice navy and the hints of gold accents. The hidden text underneath the velcro straps are a nice touch but I do like the insole.

Packaging? The Packaging is pretty basic and disappointing for a collaboration but I am not surprised by that as other New Balance collaborations I have are similar.

Walmart Canada

Price? Retail is not too high but still can be a bit lower in my opinion at $129.99 CAD. I think around $100 would be okay but nonetheless is still not bad when it comes to this pair of versatile sneaker.

All in all, this sneaker with or without my “customization” is a solid pick up for a lifestyle sneaker. Be careful of the velcro, because if you see on the customized picture, a bit of the tongue label is now messed up a bit. I am curious to know how these do perform for their intended use which is skating so if you have please let me know! Let me know what you think of these sneakers and if you have ever customized sneakers. What are your tips or advice?

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