American made athletic footwear just got a potential big boost from the Department of Defense.
The U.S. Senate on June 14 passed a Department of Defense bill that requires the Pentagon to purchase American-made athletic shoes for military recruits. This would subject athletic footwear to the Berry Amendment, originally passed by Congress in 1941 to promote the purchase of certain U.S. goods, not including athletic shoes.
Although spearheaded by New Balance, the provision would affect other American shoe manufacturers. At the Footwear News Summit earlier this month, New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini shared how the brand had pioneered the legislative change.
“We’ve done a lot of work to ensure that we’re not the one sole supplier, and we’ve ensured that, unlike the Boston Globe reported last week, that this is not an earmark, and we want to keep business,” said DeMartini. “We’ve also enabled a few of our competitors to be with us so American soldiers can wear American-made product.”
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Moving forward, the Senate and House of Representatives will meet in conference committee. The House passed its version of the bill last month.
In contrast to its support of the Berry Amendment revision, New Balance has taken a stance against the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, another piece of legislation the government is set to move on. Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), said the passage of the Berry Amendment provisions would not have a dramatic impact and the FDRA is instead focused on the TPP.
“The TPP will save the industry half a billion dollars a year, it will save New Balance tens of millions of dollars a year, it will save our industry $6 billion over 10 years,” Priest said. “It’s a once in a generation opportunity.”
President Obama has also threatened to veto the legislation.