Why Aren’t “Made in U.S.A” labels on US Troops Sneakers?

ABC News
Beyond The Headline
Why Aren’t “Made in U.S.A” labels on US Troops Sneakers?

The federal government mandates that clothing for the nation’s armed service members be made in United States. With one exception, the military can import items that U.S. manufacturers don’t have the capability to produce. And apparently, that means sneakers. Under a 2002 exemption from the Berry Amendment, recruits are allowed to select their own athletic footwear based on comfort and fit, thereby reducing the potential for injuries related to their sneakers.

Now some American shoe makers, like New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. are telling United States Department of Defense that they can produce a product for the military that is 100% “made in the U.S.A.”

ABC’s David Muir met with Danielle Terry an employee at New Balance in New York City to see how they produce shoes with the “made in the U.S.A.” in their “sneaker lab”.

Danielle Terry unpacks a kit of unfinished shoe parts, produced in a factory in Maine, ready to be assembled in the sneaker lab. As she steams the leather and fits it over a form to make final adjustments and fasten the button lace, she explains that the final step is a something most costumers will never even notice.

“This is the last step of the whole assembly process,” she says as she takes a UV marker and delicately writes on the sneaker. “The customer will never know that I wrote this, but here’s the little message on the shoe -- made in America.”

Those three words, “made in America” seem to be a large draw for costumers looking to purchase sneakers made in the United States. “At least 50% of our customers only want made in America shoes,” says Terry.

When asked what it would mean to her if New Balance received a contract with the Department of Defense to provide shoes for the US troops, she responds, “It’s honorable to know that we’re making sure that their feet are being protected. Our shoes are comfortable.”