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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

New Balance lawsuit shows how flimsy the ‘Made in USA’ label actually is

When you buy a product with the words “Made in USA” splashed on it, how do you know the brand is telling the truth about where it was really manufactured?

That’s the crux of a new class action lawsuit against New Balance. The case, filed by five consumers, argues that the sneaker brand misleads customers by marketing many of its shoes as locally manufactured when, in fact, as much as 30% of the content of these shoes are actually produced overseas using foreign labor. Beyond misleading customers, this goes against the regulations established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that companies can only label their products as “Made in USA” if they contain “no—or negligible—foreign content.”

This case raises broader questions about whether consumers can really trust the “Made in USA” label and if they’ll continue to pay a premium for goods that claim to be American-made. It’s an issue that could be a growing concern as some companies consider shifting their manufacturing back to the U.S. in an effort to avoid the disruptions that are currently paralyzing the supply chain. POLICING “MADE IN AMERICA” For decades, New Balance has branded itself an American-made footwear company. On its shoe boxes, it proudly asserts that it has been “made in the U.S. for over 75 years.” But over the last three decades, it has repeatedly come under fire for misrepresenting its products. A Wall Street Journal investigation from 2014 revealed that only about 70% of New Balance shoes reflected domestic content and labor. And in the 1990s, the FTC brought an enforcement action against New Balance for making these claims about domestic manufacturing, but eventually dropped it after a contentious legal battle.



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