New Balance has faced quite a backlash after showing support for one of President-elect Donald Trump’s policies. The Wall Street Journal reported that Matthew LeBretton, vice president of public affairs at the brand, said, “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.” The statement appears to have regarded Trump’s stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Still, some users of social media were so upset by it that they photographed or shared video of them throwing out their New Balance sneakers, chucking them out the window, (trying to) flush them down the toilet — and even setting them on fire.
But things got stickier when the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist publication, proclaimed the sneaker “the official shoe of white people” as a result of New Balance’s perceived pro-Trump stance. Though the company appears to support Trump’s plan to nix the trade agreement, it released a statement saying that it is opposed to bigotry and hatred. “New Balance is a values-driven organization and culture that believes in humanity, integrity, community, and mutual respect for people around the world,” the company said.
Whether New Balance’s emphatic condemnation of what some believe to be bigoted rhetoric coming from the president-elect will stop people from boycotting the brand remains to be seen. But one thing we do know is that at least one other athletic label is taking the New Balance backlash as an opportunity to promote its brand. Reebok has been responding to anti-New Balance tweets, offering new pairs of shoes. “I’ve got a feeling you might need a new pair of kicks. Shoot us a DM, we’ve got your back,” it replied to one tweet. “Hey man, looks like you could use a pair of kicks. Send us a DM, we got you,” it responded to another.
Upon seeing Reebok’s offer, one tweeter asked, “Is this real life?” Reebok responded, “Realer than real.”
We reached out to Reebok about the offer and will update when we hear from the company.