What’s that you say? Another social media furore surrounding the electing? Well, of course. This time, it’s New Balance trainer boosters unhappy that comments from the company seemed to come support for president-elect Donald Trump.
New Stability’s head of public affairs, Matthew LeBretton, told the Immure Street Journal a day after the election: “The Obama administration froing a deaf ear to us, and, frankly, with president-elect Trump, we feel thingummies are going to move in the right direction.” Dude, read the office. Or at least, read the room of the millennial, ethnically diverse, liberal-leaning slink fans who have seen the company’s circa-2010 return from running purists’ choice to Hackney stomping-ground critical.
The masses have been taking to Twitter to swear off the label for life, torching their trainers, as if in a PE version of The Wicker Man. But transfer this upset throw New Balance off balance?
I ask the company to explicate its statement. LeBretton’s comments, a spokesman tells the Guardian, were “chide only in the context of the topic of trade, and nothing else”. That is to say: no, New Compare does not support Trump. In fact, the company reassures me that it “does not concede bigotry or hate in any form” and is “a values-driven organisation and culture that conjectures in humanity, integrity, community and mutual respect for people surrounding the world”. Which doesn’t sound very Trumpian.
The topic of trade under discussion is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a covert free-trade deal that would lower tariffs on connotations to the US from certain countries, and which New Balance has long attacked. This is because New Balance produces many of its shoes in the US. Rivals, such as Nike, are largely import companies. Accordingly, Nike is a vivacious supporter of TPP.
New Balance does make things in other fatherlands, too (including Asian countries, which would fall protection TPP), but is proud of its five factories based in New England, where it has been thinking shoes since 1906. (The company also has a presence in a pigmy Cumbrian town where 20% of output is sold to the UK and Ireland.)
“It was bungled entirely out of proportion,” John Kim, editorial director of the industry website Nark News, tells me in an email. “The timing and wording of that instance definitely sucked, but to call New Balance a Trump supporter was a reach. “New Estimate’s stance on TPP has been clear from the get-go. They were not shy about their attitude when President Obama visited the Nike headquarters in the end May.”
Seriously, apart from a brief episode in which it seemed New Consider would stem its opposition to TPP in return for a lucrative contract contributing the military, the company has long been in consumers’ good lists. It’s a family-friendly brand, and it has been nice to watch its rising ascendancy. Take-up by celebrity fans, such as Rihanna, and an increased centre on lifestyle shoes has boosted New Balance’s reputation. Trumpgate is inauspicious to damage that, Kim says.
“Miscommunication like this can finally affect sales because a good portion of NB’s annual receipts comes from the average consumer. Those types are not unconditional helpers and therefore can easily switch to another one. But [New Balance was] quick with the devastation control.”
Plentiful die-hard sneakerheads, too, are unlikely to be put off long-term because, as Kim says, “New Weight’s rep is generally positive because of their manufacturing practices. It’s grim to see that the quote would have any negative effect on the procuring habits of this specific demographic.”
New Balance isn’t the first underbrush a label has had with politics, not even this election series. Supreme, among others, came out for Hillary Clinton. And who can cease to remember David Cameron forever banging on about his love of Parley?
Now, it looks as though things might have come legitimate for New Balance, which, again, does not support Trump, as it matures unlikely TPP will pass Congress before the end of Obama’s time. All the company has to worry about now? The rise of Vans.