New Balance Praises Trump, and Angry Consumers Are Burning Their Shoes in Protest

It's all about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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New Balance is facing backlash from fans after it expressed support for President-Elect Trump the day after the election. An executive of the Boston-based shoemaker noted that "frankly with President-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction."

Matt LeBretton, New Balance's vice president of public affairs, shared that statement with The Wall Street Journal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.  

He later clarified his comments to BuzzFeed: "The statement [quoted by reporter Sarah Germano] is correct in the context of trade, not talking about large geo-political anything, but in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement."

New Balance has openly opposed the TPP for years. In April, the company told The Boston Globe that it had been in talks with the Department of Defense about a potential contract to supply it with athletic shoes.  

"We swallowed the poison pill that is TPP so we could have a chance to bid on these contracts," LeBretton wrote. "We were assured this would be a top-down approach at the Department of Defense if we agreed to either support or remain neutral on TPP. [But] the chances of the Department of Defense buying shoes that are made in the USA are slim to none while Obama is president." 

A sneaker magazine, Sole Collector, spotted Germano's tweet. After it wrote up New Balance's stance and socialized it, many fans replied to the thread with images of them burning or throwing away their sneakers.

After the backlash started to gain traction online the company clarified its stance to Sole Collector

"As the only major company that still makes athletic shoes in the United States, New Balance has a unique perspective on trade and trade policy in that we want to make more shoes in the United States, not less," the company said in a statement.

The company added: "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."

New Balance did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.