Founded in 1906, New Balance is an American sports brand that now operates in several countries across the globe. Their two most popular sneakers are the 574 and 990 models which have long been advertised as “Made in the USA” products, but is it actually true?
We did some research on where New Balance shoes are made and here’s what we found:
Not all New Balance shoes are made in the USA. While it’s true that New Balance is the only major company to make more than 4 million pairs of shoes in America, most of their athletic footwear is made in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Don’t believe me? I’ll show you three of my New Balance sneakers which are made in three different countries in the post below.
I’ve also reached out to New Balance for answers regarding this topic, and I will show you their answers below. So, let’s talk about where New Balance shoes are made, shall we?
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Where Are New Balance Shoes Manufactured?
A simple Google search of “is New Balance made in the USA?” and you get a pretty clear answer from the official New Balance website. Here’s what they said:
We are proud to be the only major company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA, which represents a limited portion of our US sales. Where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes Made in the USA.NEW BALANCE, American Sports Brand
If you read the statement carefully, you’ve probably noticed the words “make or assemble”. It means that not all of the production process, start to finish, is done in America. In fact, New Balance gets many materials overseas, including their soles, which are made in China.
Moreover, I think that the statement can be somewhat misleading.
New Balance advertised itself as “Made In the USA”, but in reality, most of New Balance’s production comes from China and other parts of Asia, including Indonesia and Vietnam. Even the component parts of the shoes are not 100% USA-made.
According to an NPR report, most of New Balance’s shoes are made in Asia, and Americans love them because they are cheap and affordable. It was Chinese factories, in part, that killed New England’s once-thriving shoe industry.
However, despite the large number of their shoes being made in Asia, New Balance still employs around 7,000 American workers at their five facilities in Maine and Massachusetts, which produce about 4 million pairs of “Made in USA” shoes every year.
Some New Balance shoes are also made in the UK, which is crafted in their factory in Flimby, Cumbria, UK.
So to conclude, New Balance label products “Made in the USA” when they are at least 70% domestic in value. In other words, if a shoe has 70% American materials and 30% Chinese materials, it would still be considered a product made in the USA.
Here’s the Proof…
I have three New Balance sneakers, one of them is the super popular 574 which is a timeless classic. One would think that a shoe so iconic, with that much history behind it, would be made in America, but as it turns out, mine was made in China.
Here’s my Made in China New Balance 574:
Another popular New Balance shoe, the 997H, is designed as the affordable and budget-friendly version of the much-admired New Balance 997. In fact, I’ve compared the 997H with the 574 and it fared really well. However this time, the shoe is made in Indonesia.
Here’s my Made in Indonesia New Balance 997H:
The last New Balance shoe I want to feature is made in Vietnam. I forgot the model of the shoe because I took a picture of it at a local New Balance store, but I think it was the New Balance 247S. While I don’t own this shoe, I think that the shoe looks quite nice at first glance.
Here’s the picture of the New Balance that was made in Vietnam:
After collecting the pictures, I reached out to the official New Balance customer service. I asked why my New Balance shoes were made in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam when the official website said that there are plenty of shoes made in the USA.
Here’s their email response to me:
The answer from Pedro (the customer service who responded to me) was taken straight out of the New Balance’s website, which I’ve already read. He also said that my shoes were not part of the 4 million pairs that New Balance produces each year in America.
I’m alright with that since I’ve broken into the shoes and they are very comfortable.
So you see, all three New Balance shoes are made in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam respectively. I think it makes sense for a shoe company to produce shoes in Asia because production costs are significantly lower than in America.
However, it’s hard to argue that shoes made in the USA have much better quality and craftsmanship than shoes made in Asia. That is why many people often seek out the best sneakers made in the USA to find shoes that will last a long time.
Which New Balance Shoes Are Made in the USA?
Unfortunately, I can’t find any New Balance shoes that are 100% “Made in the USA”. Here are some popular shoes that they list in their Made in the USA section on their website:
- New Balance 990v5
- New Balance 992
- New Balance 993
- New Balance 998
- New Balance 1540v2
- New Balance Postal 706v2
New Balance also manufactures PF Flyers, which have some styles made in the USA. In fact, we’ve included both New Balance and PF Flyers in our best sneakers made in the USA list.
If you’re considering some New Balance shoes made in the USA, I highly recommend the New Balance 990v5 or 993. In fact, Tuck and Move compared the 990 and 993 right here.
And there you have it, the answer to the question: Are New Balance shoes made in the USA?
Now you know that most New Balance shoes are made in Asia, especially China, Indonesia, and Vietnam, instead of America. Remember, a New Balance shoe is labeled “Made in the USA” only when it has about 70% of American domestic value.
Written by: Jason T.