words // Brennan Hiro Williams
While sneakers are not typically associated with national politics, the issue of domestic manufacturing has taken on increasing significance in the United States in recent years, a subject that no athletic shoe manufacturer has given more attention to than Boston-based New Balance.
With President Barack Obama making a stop in Maine last night, the local Norridgewock New Balance factory crafted a custom pair of running shoes for the 44th President of the United States. The 990s, chosen because it is the company's longest-produced running shoe made in the United States, were presented to President Obama by U.S Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine, 2nd). With the gift, Michaud and New Balance hoped to remind the President of the importance of domestically produced footwear.
Congressman Michaud introduced the American Shoes For American Service Members Act (H.R. 2955) in Septermber, a bill to clarify the Berry Amendment, which requires the Department of Defense to give preference to products produced, manufactured or homegrown in the United States -- most notably food, fabrics and clothing. Michaud's bill would require that the "clothing" category of the Berry Amendment includes footwear.