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New Balance named in suit for 'misrepresentation' for sneakers made in USA

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

28 Dec 2021

Business

Image: New Balance

Sneaker giant New Balance has been named in a new lawsuit for false claims against its ‘USA Made’ marketing.

The case, filed in the court of Massachusetts, alleges up to 30 percent “of each individual sneaker would be made up of parts imported or produced using labour from foreign work.” Since some of the manufacture of its footwear takes place outside the United States, the complainants argue that New Balance’s sneakers do not meet the legally established definition of “Made in USA”, which requires that the products marketed as “made in America” or “made in the USA” must be made “all or virtually all” in the United States.

The soles of New Balance shoes are reportedly not produced in the USA, but manufactured in China, and some argue the sole is the crux of a sneaker.

New Balance clarifies its Made in USA stance “by including a fine print disclaimer in parts of its website and on the underside of its packaging,” said the filing, which reads “contain a domestic value of 70 percent or greater.” According to the plaintiffs this is insufficient as “a reasonable consumer would not expect the fine print on the underside of packaging or hidden in various places on a website to contain language inconsistent with representations that the sneakers were ‘Made in the USA’.”

In a statement to Footwear News New Balance said: “New Balance takes pride in our longstanding commitment to domestic manufacturing — it is a valued part of our heritage and culture. Our four New England-based factories currently employ approximately 1,000 Americans who work to produce our athletic footwear. Our brand’s success has been built and sustained by our unwavering belief that making things matters and by the craftsmanship of the men and women who work in our factories.”

In the filing the plaintiffs state they would not have purchased the sneakers if they know they were fully produced in the USA. They further state they were deceived into paying a premium price for products they believed to be entirely American-made.

The case is Matthew Cristostomo et al, v. New Balance Athletics, Inc., 1: 21-cv-12095 (D. Mass.)