Footwear faux pas: New Balance distances itself from unwanted neo-Nazi endorsement

Shoe-manufacturing giant attempts to distance itself from unwanted endorsement by white supremacists.

November 16, 2016 15:23
2 minute read.
New Balance

New Balance shoe [Illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

America sneaker-making giant New Balance has attempted to distance itself from a footwear faux pas that lead to white supremacists endorsing the brand as "the official shoes of white people."

The Massachusetts athletic-gear company issued a statement this week underlining that it "does not tolerate bigotry or hate in any form" after a website linked to white supremacist claimed the shoe line as their poster-child.

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The debacle unfolded last week after a New Balance spokesman expressed praise of possible changes expected with the incoming administration of US President-elect Donald Trump.

In reference to an international trade deal that Trump has opposed, the company's vice president of public affairs, Matt LeBretton, told the Wall Street Journal that the company see the policy change as a "move in the right direction."

The issue sparked a fiery response from footwear financiers who interpreted the comments as New Balance's full-fledged embrace of Trump. A social media firestorm ensued as disgruntled consumers engaged in a protest of the company, circulating images of shoes being torches, flushed in the toilet and otherwise destroyed.

Meanwhile, the "alt-right" website "The Daily Stormer" aligned the shoe company with the white supremacy movement. Over the weekend, the website that is rife with hate speech and antisemitic and anti-gay rhetoric championed New Balance and encouraged its readers to purchase their shoes.

In a quick attempt to distance itself from the unwanted endorsement from the proponents of white supremacy, which boasted a wave of Trump supporters, New Balance on Monday issued a statement saying its initial comments had been taken out of context.

“As a 110-year-old company with five factories in the US and thousands of employees worldwide from all races, genders, cultures and sexual orientations, New Balance is a values-driven organization and culture that believes in humanity, integrity, community and mutual respect for people around the world,” the company wrote on Facebook alongside a condemnation of hatred and bigotry.

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