No, the new Republican President-elect isn’t working on a sneaker collaboration. But last night, Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Germano tweeted a quote from New Balance’s Vice President of public affairs, reaffirming the Boston-based company’s objection to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and their support of a Trump Presidency.
New Balance is “the only major American company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA,” according to their website. NPD Group shows them leading in both men’s and women’s categories for the independent shoe channel, and second behind UGG brand in children’s. For what it’s worth, New Balance would likely have backed rival candidate Hillary Clinton, too, who reversed her stance on TPP after endorsing it three years ago as President Obama’s Secretary of State. On the campaign trail she, like Trump, opposed the deal, but her so-called flip-flop made some voters nervous that she’d change her position yet again if she made it to the White House.
New Balance has updated its image in recent years, promoting its American-made ethos and working with cutting edge streetwear vendors like Kith and Concepts. GQ praises the effort: “Over the years we’ve lauded New Balance’s ability to turn out quality, stylish footwear while maintaining a manufacturing presence in the United States as other brands fled to China, Vietnam and elsewhere.” Critics of TPP, like New Balance’s VP, argue that the trade deal will make it even more difficult for companies with a stateside manufacturing base to stay competitive, because the price of foreign imports will inevitably drop.
As Footwear News reports, the issue is divisive in the shoe industry. The CEOs of Deer Stags Concepts (NoSox, Soft Stags) and the RG Barry Corporation (Dearfoams, Foot Petals) both support TPP, citing the currently burdensome international taxes and tariffs. Nike is an outspoken supporter of the deal, arguing that it will allow for more innovation and expansion. As the Wall Street Journal reported back in May, the sneaker giant claims the agreement will actually help them bring 10,000 jobs back to the U.S.