In 2017, Sneakers Got Political

by MR Magazine Staff

Usually, when Bernie Gross meets somebody, he does what any good sneakerhead would do: judges them based on their footwear choices. But when a New Balance executive “dressed like Andy Bernard from The Office” walked into Gross’s high-end sneaker boutique Extra Butter a few months after another executive from the company came out in support of Donald Trump, he didn’t need to go that far. The company hoped the new commander-in-chief would make good on previous administration’s promise to hand over a juicy contract to make shoes for the United States military, so there wasn’t much doubt in Gross’s mind about the guy’s politics—or at least his company’s. So imagine his surprise when this particular executive made it absolutely clear to Gross that there was no real love affair brewing between New Balance and Trump. “The first thing he said to me when he came into the store was, ‘Listen, man, I’m just letting you know I hope that what things were said from up top does not reflect who we are as a brand,” Gross says. Gross scrutinized the executive. Gross says that a visit like this counts as relationship maintenance on a “micro level,” but it’s proof of the lengths brands like New Balance went to do damage control. In this situation, the executive was putting aside politics for the greater good of selling more sneakers. (New Balance did not respond to requests for comment.) Read more at GQ.