What You Should Know About New Balance’s Reportedly Pro-Trump Comments

New Balance 998 Horween
Made in USA Horween Leather New Balance 998 sneakers.
Courtesy of Sneaker Politics

New Balance has responded to a series of tweets from Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Germano on Wednesday suggesting that the Boston-based athletic brand supported President-elect Donald Trump.

“As the only major company that still makes athletic shoes in the United States, New Balance has a unique perspective on trade in that we want to make more shoes in the United States, not less,” the company told Footwear News in a statement. “New Balance publicly supported the trade positions of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump prior to election day that focused on American manufacturing job creation, and we continue to support them today.”

In the wake of Trump’s victory, Germano’s tweets had cast New Balance as the first U.S. sportswear brand to publicly back the newly elected commander in chief.

According to Germano, New Balance VP of public affairs Matt LeBretton said that President Barack Obama’s administration had been unresponsive to several of the brand’s efforts and that he was feeling more optimistic with Trump at the helm.

“The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us, and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction,” LeBretton reportedly said, according to a tweet posted by Germano.

Throughout the course of his presidential campaign, Trump had openly criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. The controversial deal, which awaits ratification, would eliminate tariffs on footwear and open the floodgates for international trade between 12 countries, including the U.S., Vietnam, Mexico, Australia and Japan.

New Balance, which has used its “Made in America” tag as the foundation of its marketing efforts, also spoke out against the trade deal in April, largely viewing it as a viable threat to its U.S. based manufacturing.

That wasn’t the first time New Balance has taken a political stance. The brand has also been heavily involved in working for an expansion of the Berry Amendment. Previously, athletic shoes had been an exception to the amendment created in 1941 that required the military to purchase U.S. produced and sourced goods. New Balance has worked to secure Congressional support to have the law expanded to include athletic footwear.