New Balance has pioneered their ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ and ‘Made in the UK’ brands and sold them with a lot of success, at albeit higher prices, to a market comprised almost entirely of imported shoes. Almost 25% of the shoes New Balance sells in the U.S. are made at the five New England factories New Balance currently operates.
Recently, the brand has again come under scruple of the Federal Trade Commission. Not 100%, not 90%, but only “about 70% of the value of its U.S. made shoes reflect domestic content and labor” (Aeppel, WSJ). The U.S. Federal Trade Commission states that products must be ‘all or virtually all” made in this country to qualify as ‘Made in the U.S.A..’ Few know that the FTC has been in continuous contention with New Balance since 1990, when the FTC brought an enforcement action against the brand and their ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ claims. The FTC has since dropped action against the brand.
While New Balance does not hide their 70% threshold. However, that percentage simply does not meet the standards set by the FTC. States like California require that 100% of the product must be made in the U.S.A. to qualify for the label.
“We look at the New Balance shoe case as clear proof that the federal law is not being enforced,” says Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California.
What are your thoughts on this debate? If the FTC were to force New Balance to up their percentage to 100%, would that withdraw New Balance from manufacturing in the U.S. altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments below.