New Balance is an old reliable brand for people who love performance but also want an affordable product. While the company was founded in America, many people wonder if their products are still made in the USA, especially because so many shoe companies have shifted their manufacturing overseas.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly where New Balance shores made and discuss other important facts about the company.
New Balance shoes are made in many countries, including China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. New Balance has five factories in the United States, and they are very open about exactly which shoe models are made in the USA.
Which New Balance Shoes Are Made in the USA?
One thing I really like about New Balance is that they are very open about exactly which shoe models they make in the USA.
On their website, you can easily find the links below.
Here are the links from their website:
To view all men’s shoes made in the USA, check out this link.
To view all women’s shoes made in the USA, check out this link.
There are currently six products listed (with many variations) on the New Balances website that wear their Made in America label. As you may expect, they are also some of their more expensive shoes.
Nonetheless, here is a quick list of them, along with their manufacturer descriptions. If you are interested in any of these shoes, you can see them on Newbalance.com here.
More Information About New Balance’s Manufacturing Practices
As mentioned New Balance shoes are made in many countries. I actually decided to go into a local shoe store by my house to see where the shoes being offered there were made.
The first shoes I picked up and inspected were made in Vietnam.
The second pair of shoes I grabbed were made in Indonesia.
The next pair of shoes I inspected were made in Vietnam.
The fourth pair of shoes I inspected were made in Indonesia.
The fifth pair of shoes I checked were made in Vietnam.
After checking about a dozen different shoes, I found that the most common manufacturing location was Vietnam, but there were still plenty of shoes made in other countries.
More on New Balance’s Manufacturing Presence in the USA
Now just to be clear, New Balance produces many of its shoes and other products outside of the United States. As a matter of fact, the majority of their products are made outside of the United States.
The good news is that they have 5 New Balance factory locations in the United States. 3 of these locations are in Massachusetts, and the other two are in Maine. Combined, these factories employ more than 1,600 Americans.
According to New Balance, they “make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA”. The terms make or assemble are not defined on their website so we really can not tell what they mean by that.
There is also some small controversy around their use of the Made in America claim. New Balance says, “where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes Made in the USA”. Since the 1990s, the Federal Trade Commission has been in a legal dispute with New Balance fighting over whether or not they are allowed to use the Made in America slogan.
Since the dispute is still ongoing, New Balance included a different term in their promise, domestic value.
The use of the new term does not directly mean that 70% of the shoe was made in the USA; instead, this means that 70% of the cost associated with the shoe is attributed to American raw materials. However, we all know that American materials are going to cost more, so where the other 30% could be Chinese materials, they will cost much less and therefore could make up much more of the shoe.
In the end, the advertised American-made New Balance shoe could be over 50% foreign. There are only a few select shoes that have a Made in America label, indicating that most of their shoes are made 100% overseas.
New Balance does not disclose very much information about their Chinese and other Asian facilities, but they also have a strong presence in the United Kingdom. Their factory in Filmby, UK, produces 30% of their shoes sold in European markets.
If you’re interested in knowing how a New Balance shoe is made, check out this cool video showing New Balance shoes being made.
Is 70% Enough?
Some might find it a little disappointing that New Balance does not offer shoes that are totally American Made, although, when we look at the alternatives, it’s actually very impressive. Since most of the other mainstream shoe brands produce nearly all of their products overseas, New Balance is by far the leading manufacturer in the United States.
Given the circumstances, it’s relatively safe to conclude that they are producing as much as they can in the United States without having to charge an arm and a leg for their products. The way trade laws are currently, it is just so much cheaper to produce materials overseas and import them.
In general, this kind of trade is good. Of course, we want to buy American products whenever we can, but we can not make everything in America and keep it affordable. If New Balance decided they wanted to make their exact same shoes but totally made in America, they would cost significantly more.
If you are the kind of person that always wants to buy American-made products and you are in the market for a mainstream shoe, New Balance is likely your best bet. Even though we can’t say for certain what percentage of their shoes are American-made, buying their products made overseas is still supporting an American company that puts in much more effort to be American than its competitors.
Who Owns New Balance?
New Balance is a privately owned company by Jim Davis and his family. It’s estimated that the Davis family owns as much as 95% of the shares.
New Balance’s Interesting Roots in America
An Irish Immigrant named William J Riley started the New Balance Arch Support Company in 1906 in Boston. Initially, the company produced arch support and other accessories to make shoes fit better. His arch support products were used to provide better balance and comfort than what the shoe could initially offer. This was great for athletes and normal people alike.
Oddly enough, Riley came up with the name New Balance after watching his chickens walk in his yard. He would also explain to people how his arch support helped them by demonstrating his idea with a chicken foot he kept at his desk.
In 1927 William Riley hired his first salesman, Arthur Hall. Later in 1934, Hall became a partner of the New Balance company. Soon thereafter, they started doing business under the name New Balance Athletic Shoe Company.
In 1956 Hall sold his business to his daughter Eleanor and her husband, Paul Kidd. While they continued to sell arch support products, they later developed the world’s first running shoe. Their shoe was named the “Trackster.” This shoe also came in varying widths and with plenty of arch support, staying true to the comfort ideal that New Balance has had since its creation. It was not long until the shoe really took off. It became the unofficial shoe of the YMCA and was soon adopted by high school and college athletic teams.
In 1970, a new business entity titled New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc was created, and it replaced the former business. Later in 2015, the entity would become New Balance Athletics inc.
After its initial success, New Balance sales began to slow down, which led to Jim Davis, current chair of New Balance, purchasing the company in 1972. When he bought the business, it had six employees making 30 pairs of shoes per day. All of their sales were either from mail orders through a few local retailers or local sports fairs.
After taking over, Jim placed the company in a new business entity known as New Balance inc. Even though he could have taken the company in any direction he wanted, Jim held true to the initial values of New Balance. He was committed to comfort and customer preferences. In 1978 his wife Anne joined the company, and she worked rigorously on the company-customer relationships.
Not only was the new company focused on making quality, comfortable products, but they also had great customer service. These two factors led to their success in the coming decades. New Balance did a great job in Boston during the ’70s. There was an overall running boom going on in the area at the time, So they had plenty of new customers.
With their growing success, New Balance began to produce new products and expand its reach. Their next goal was to make New Balance Inc a global company. They began to spread their manufacturing overseas and into the United Kingdom. Currently, most of their products are made overseas and shipped to the United States. Although around 30% of their products sold in the European market are made at their Flamby, UK factory.
New Balance continues to make quality products all over the world and has also started doing plenty of sports sponsorships. With their current and former success, there is a good chance that New Balance will be around for quite a long time and will continue to produce quality products.
How the Rest of the Industry Compares To New Balance
As you have seen, New Balance does not produce a ton of its shoes in the United States, but they do produce some in the United States. Let’s take a quick look at other major shoe brands and see where they make their shoes and if they are better or worse than New Balance. If you’re interested, we actually have an in-depth guide on American-made shoes here that you can check out.
Nike has a record for selling about 25 pairs of shoes per second, which is insane. If you do the math, that is 788.4 million pairs of shoes every year. Plus, Nike is worth billions, so they have plenty of resources to produce their products wherever they would like, or at least produce a select number of shoes in the United States like New Balance.
Nike produces its products in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. It’s also a well-known fact that since the 1970s, they’ve been accused of running sweatshops in East Asia, forcing its employees, including children, to work long hours with low pay in less than favorable conditions. As you can see, they seem to do whatever they can to maximize profits, which is why they are worth billions.
Nike is obviously not a very ethical company, much less a company that does what it can to support the United States. Although their shoes and products continue to be extremely popular all over the world., it is pretty clear that if you want to be a consumer that buys American when they can, Nike isn’t a brand high up on the list.
While Adidas makes most of its products in Asia, we can at least see that they are putting in an effort to produce their shoes globally. They also have plenty of factories in the United States.
Initially, they were producing skied running shoes for track runners. Although they were not the first company to make spiked running shoes, they made a quality product. Adidas really took off after Adolf was able to convince American Olympic athlete Jesse Owens to wear his shoes in the 1936 summer Olympics.
In 1949, the founding brothers had tarnished their relationship with each other, and Rudolf decided to leave the company and start his own. Rudolfs company would later become known as Puma. So Adolf changed the initial name of Dassier Brother Shoe Factory to Adidas, which came from Adi, short for Adolf, and Das, a shorter version of his last name.
While it is unclear if the brothers wanted to or were forced to, around 1933, both of them joined what would be known as the Nazi Party leading into World War 2. Instead of producing running shoes, they were now tasked with producing shoes for Nazi soldiers. At the time, the Dassler brothers were still together, and their factory was the last shoe factory in Germany. In 1943 they were forced to stop production, and their factory was used to produce anti-tank weapons until the war had ended.
Adidas is not free from controversy. They were also included in a sweatshop scandal between 2006 and 2007. Some of their executives were included in an NCAA corruption scandal, and they even produced a line of Soviet-themed items in 2018, which were quickly taken off the market.
Obviously, there are dozens of companies that we could talk about forever, but the main competitors to New Balance in the shoe industry are Nike and Adidas. Plus, between the three of them, they take up nearly the entirety of the shoe market.
So if you are the kind of consumer that always wants to buy American-made products, or at least buy products from an ethical company, New Balance is definitely the way to go. While they do not directly make all of their shoes in the United States, they do make some of them here.
The good news is that contrary to Addidas and Nike, New Balance is not accused of running sweatshops, and they do not get themselves involved in polarizing scandals. All in all, New Balance is a good company with a good product, so let’s take a closer look at how the company started and what controversy may surround them.
To wrap it all up, no, New Balance does not make most of its shoes in America. They actually make a very small portion of their shoes in America, and even then, they are made with plenty of overseas raw materials. That being said, the company did start in America and still employs thousands of Americans. You will also not find another mainstream shoe company making very many, if any, of its shoes in America, especially Nike or Adidas.
So if you want to support an American company the next time you buy a mainstream pair of shoes, go with New Balance. While not all of their shoes are American, they are about as American as it gets in the shoe industry.
That does it for this article. If you have any further questions about where New Balance shoes are made, let us know in the comments below.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Choosing products made in America is important to me because it supports local economies, creates jobs, helps the environment, and ensures ethical labor practices. I also find that American made products are usually of higher quality so although they’re a little more expensive, you save money in the long run. Before starting this website I was in the USMC infantry and nowadays I work on this website as a hobby.