The Alt-Right and the Mobilization of Brand Affect: New Balance and Neo-Nazis’ Athleisure Affiliations


  • Rebecca Halliday Ryerson University



New Balance, Social Media, Callout, Affect, Alt-right


This article probes American sportswear manufacturer New Balance’s reputational and public relations crisis, which resulted from an executive’s statement of support for Donald Trump’s US-focused trade policies in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. Reported consumer backlash to New Balance’s apparent alliance with Trump was exacerbated when neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer penned an editorial appropriating New Balance as “the official shoes of White people.” Using theories of affect in social media and consumer culture as a framework, I situate the New Balance case within the current culture wars as enacted in politicized social media threads, as well as prior instances in which alt-right groups have attempted to co-opt sportswear brands’ cultural associations in the service of extremist politics. Performing manual inductive content analysis on a sample of tweets from before the publication of the editorial (n=100) and after (n=77), I illuminate a polarized political division between users in terms of their backlash or endorsement of New Balance’s stance, which correlates with stated anti-Trump or pro-Trump positions, and articulate how users position themselves in terms of a consumer/customer relation to New Balance as brand, while sneakers become a material outlet for consumers to enact their discontent in a mediatized forum.


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How to Cite

Halliday, R. (2021). The Alt-Right and the Mobilization of Brand Affect: New Balance and Neo-Nazis’ Athleisure Affiliations. ZoneModa Journal, 11(1), 1–14.