On the first day of New York Fashion Week, the sportswear giant set up a booth in Soho with cameras facing out in every direction, scanning the hoards of people walking the streets of the city.
Given that the dozens of fashion events throughout the city that week, pedestrians were in town from all over the world, dressed in their most stylish outfits, ready to see and be seen. But New Balance isn't interested in the people who are on trend. The company has worked to develop technology specifically designed to identify people who don't look like everybody else.

For several weeks, in the run-up to Fashion Week, a team of computer scientists went around New York with cameras to collect baseline data about fashion trends. At the start of the week, the "exception spotting" based on that data will kick into action. The cameras were equipped with machine learning, gathering information about what people are wearing–from the style of clothing to the color palettes and patterns on display–all for the purpose of identifying anomalies. The process is, for the most part, devoid of human intervention and bias. Instead, the company developed a statistical algorithm to identify who is really, objectively unique.
Over the last year, New Balance has been working to craft itself as the rebel of the sportswear industry. It is leaning into its heritage as an independently owned company founded in 1906, which makes it different from the Nikes and Reeboks of the world that are publicly owned and also newer. The brand's new marketing campaign is called "Be The Exception," and one way it is helping to tell this story is through these AI-equipped cameras at Fashion Week.