Sportwear firm Nike is making a statement with more than just great design.
For Black History Month in 2019, Nike have produced an ‘equality’ multi-trainer special edition, launched on Martin Luther King Jr day. This annual BHM collection began in 2005.
The trainer is part of Nike’s much wider approach to cultural and religious diversity. We feel parts of this approach deserve equal attention to its long-standing commitment to celebrate African-American history. By engaging with under-represented communities, Nike has begun to develop products that reach beyond the traditional trainer and sportswear market. This approach goes beyond symbolic commitment to become a design-based dialogue about cultural difference.
Supporting cultural difference – Nike’s first Pro Hijab
A key example of its culturally diverse design work is Nike’s first Pro Hijab, which was developed in 2017. This garment responded to the need for culturally sensitive and inclusive sportswear for women Muslim athletes. Many elite athletes choosing to exercise in a Hijab reported that it becomes hot and makes hearing difficult. The Pro Hijab was designed to be soft and light, and to allow the body to cool easily.
Elite women Muslim athletes were involved in the design process, giving feedback on prototypes that allowed the Nike design team to create an inconspicuous, high-performance garment. In this way, the product points the way to a more inclusive conception of sport.
A spirit of activism and inclusion
Nike’s product development happens in the context of its 2018 marketing campaign, marking 30 years of the ‘Just Do It’ slogan. The campaign shows a portrait of Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, an American footballer, became famous in 2016 because he refused to stand for the US national anthem. Instead, he ‘took a knee’ as a protest against racial injustice and police violence.
After making this high-profile statement, Kaepernick was released by his team, the San Francisco 49-ers. The athlete accused the NFL of conspiring to prevent him from finding a contract. Nike’s 2018 slogan, ‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything’, represents a new activist emphasis in Nike’s advertising.
Some have seen this as Nike taking a stand against increasingly nationalist discourse in US and global political debate. At VERCIDA we recognise the importance of making a commitment to inclusion. Search here to find employers who share these values.