What do sneakers have to do with presidential elections?
Athletic apparel company New Balance has become one of the first major clothing brands in the U.S. to publicly welcome the impending presidency of Republican Donald Trump, saying he makes the Boston-based brand “feel things are going to move in the right direction."
The reason New Balance, known mostly for its comfortable everyday sneakers and running shoes, would take a public stance on such a controversial president and election is simple: the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Other athletic brands such as Nike and Adidas have long made the bulk of their shoes in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, using cheap labor that has led to several controversies in the past. The Wall Street Journal reports that 98 percent of the shoes sold in the U.S. are imported.
New Balance, however, makes about a quarter of its shoes in U.S. factories, per the Wall Street Journal. The company’s website claims it is the only major U.S. company to make or assemble 4 million athletic shoes domestically.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership would slash tariffs on goods coming from Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru, according to the BBC, which New Balance says would affect its ability to compete with U.S.-made shoes.
Nike, on the other hand, supports the TPP.
But New Balance’s decision to come out in favor of Trump has not been without a very public social media backlash, with some Twitter users posting videos and pictures of their New Balance shoes in the garbage or on fire in protest.
Of course, while many are pledging to throw out or never buy New Balance products again, Trump supporters have leaped to defend the company too.