New Balance Faces Lawsuit For Misleading Customers With ‘Made In USA’ Sneakers
By Mikelle Leow, 30 Dec 2021
There’s no party in the USA for New Balance, which is now being accused of false advertising in a proposed class-action lawsuit. As first reported by The Fashion Law, six men have filed a complaint denouncing the sportswear label for allegedly misleading consumers into thinking its Made in USA sneakers—a range New Balance holds to a high standard—is fully made in the USA.
The Federal Trade Commission requires that products be “all or virtually all” manufactured in the US for them to be labeled as made in the country. However, the plaintiffs argue that “as much as 30 percent” of components in the Made in USA line are foreign, including parts and labor.
New Balance even mentions a version of this in its product descriptions, writing: “New Balance MADE contains a domestic value of 70% or more.” There’s also a disclaimer on the packaging, Input notes. The men insisted that “no reasonable consumer” would read the fine print to check that the sneakers are inconsistent with what they’re being marketed for.
To back up their complaint, they cited a Wall Street Journal report detailing that New Balance’s two suppliers for soles are from China, and stressed that soles are “an important aspect of the shoes.”
The plaintiffs took their case to a Massachusetts federal court, claiming that the brand is “continu[ing] to knowingly make these misrepresentations because consumers are willing to pay more for products that they believe are actually made in the United States.” They accused New Balance of fraud, unjust enrichment, and for violating express warranty as well as unfair competition or trade laws of some states.
The men are asking for monetary damages, in addition to a court order to bring a class-action case against the brand.
New Balance told The Fashion Law that domestic production “is a valuable part of our heritage and culture,” and that it “seeks to be transparent in all consumer communications, prominently disclosing that where domestic value is at least 70 percent, the brand’s footwear is labeled Made in the USA.”
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