President Obama Is in the Midst of a So-Called ‘Sneaker War’

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Photo: Don Ryan/Corbis

In what is perhaps his biggest fashion-related headline since he wore that ill-advised tan suit last year, President Obama is, per Politico, embroiled in "sneaker wars." Not to be confused with Rita Ora's "sneaker infidelity," a "sneaker war" is the scuffle that results when the president goes to speak at Nike's campus in Oregon about his proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, and one of Nike's rivals, the Boston-based New Balance, takes umbrage. New Balance, which manufactures its shoes in Maine and proudly touts its made-in-USA status, is worried that the agreement could lead to more jobs moving offshore. NB vice-president Matt LeBretton threw some grade-A corporate-speak shade when he told Politico, “I think it’s great that the president is getting out and talking about his agenda. [But] it would be great to have him come to a footwear company that actually still makes shoes in the United States and be talking about this agreement. We’d welcome that opportunity.”

Nike spokesperson Greg Rossiter rebutted that Nike “has more than 26,000 employees in the U.S., including more than 8,500 jobs in Oregon that depend on free trade and our ability to reach consumers in 190 countries around the world in which we sell our product. Nike has an annual economic impact on the state of Oregon of more than $2.5 billion.” The company also said that the Trans-Pacific Partnership could enable it to return to some U.S. manufacturing. Could a sneaker détente be in the offing?