Debra Messing, Rae Sremmurd Urge New Balance Boycott as Neo Nazi Site Endorses Sneaker
In the tumultuous days following the 2016 presidential election, in which Donald Trump garnered enough electoral votes for a win, those dismayed by the victory were displeased to learn that a New Balance executive had allegedly voiced his support for Trump.
A Wall Street Journalist reporter tweeted a quote attributed to New Balance VP of public affairs Matt LeBretton, claiming he said that "The Obama admin turned a deaf ear to us & frankly w/ Pres-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction."
Trump critics, correctly or incorrectly, interpreted this to mean the company itself shared LeBretton's slightly out of context sentiment (though legislation may suggest otherwise, corporations aren't actually people). Soon, dissenting New Balance owners were tweeting photos of their shoes in the garbage or even on fire. The company soon clarified that LeBretton's remarks directly pertained to the "direction" of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that Trump, like New Balance, opposes. New Balance then tweeted a vague statement saying "we believe in humanity" on November 10, which was met with still more photos of peoples' discarded shoes.
And now, New Balance finds themselves again denying a claim that they're the "official shoes of white people," a claim a neo-Nazi site decreed in a blog post over the weekend.
In a story titled "Your Uniform: New Balance Just Became the Official Shoes of White People," a blogger for the Daily Stormer, a site that heavily employs racial and anti-Semitic slurs to spread factually-false news and a white supremacist agenda, wrote, "It’s time to get on-board with New Balance now."
"Their brave act has just made them the official brand of the Trump Revolution," the story reads. "New Balance is making a gesture to support White people and to support US manufacturing. We need to support that."
"We will be able to recognize one another by our sportswear," the article stated, running a photo of Mel Gibson wearing black New Balance sneakers.
New Balance refuted the story with a second statement on November 14, tweeting "Our company does not tolerate hate or bigotry in any form" (the Daily Stormer followed up with a second story claiming "New Balance’s twitter account has been hacked by [racial slur PopCrush won't print here] and they’ve denounced our Republican agenda").
New Balance's Twitter was clearly not hacked — their message remains two days later — but for now celebrities like Debra Messing and "Black Beatles" duo Rae Sremmurd's Swae Lee are swearing off the sneaker. Setting aside any notions of an implicit racist agenda, though, plenty of Twitter users pointed out that New Balance is pretty much already the shoe for schlubby white guys. There was even a whole SNL sketch about it starring Zach Galifianakis back in 2013.
Check out some high profile no-New-Balance reactions below, as well as their statement on the rumors, and reflect on what a surreal year 2016 has been.