A recent development in Nike’s attempt at keeping up with the progressives shows the company displaying plus-sized mannequins inside their London flagship store.
— Ashley Stokes (@_AStokes_) June 6, 2019
Companies that market to an increasingly younger demographic have accurately realized that this demographic is increasingly progressive. Millennials and Gen-Zers care more about inclusion, diversity, and empowerment of women and minorities.
In other words, younger people are largely more “woke.” In order to keep cashing in on this growing demographic’s bag, companies like Nike have to adjust their approach.
Nike has been a leading brand in raising the standard of tackling social issues.
But this is nothing new.
In the past, Nike has promoted everything from ageism to taking a stance on #BLM by appointing Colin Kaepernick as their spokesperson.
Their ad campaigns over the last three decades have often been based on social issues and Nike is not afraid to take risks.
But the company has also been synonymous with sweatshops at the same time. In 1991, activist Jeff Ballinger published a report on the working conditions of Nike’s Indonesian factories.
The report found that conditions were dangerous and pay for workers was devastatingly low. Eventually, Nike promised to improve conditions by monitoring its sweatshops, and they did for a while.
In 2017 however, the Fashion Revolution’s 2017 Fashion Transparency Index gave Nike a score of 36 out of 100 stating the company was not making enough of its environmental social practices information public.
Nike is on its’ way to becoming a “sustainable brand.”
As a member of the ‘Sustainable Apparel Coalition,’ Nike has made significant changes to minimize its’ environmental footprint. There are a few things that Nike can follow through with to make that happen.
The sportswear company looks to expand its use of eco-friendly materials, continue to minimize off-cuts in parts of its manufacturing process and follow it’s waste and water reduction strategy.
All of this could change the way the industry approaches environmental issues.
Taking Some Steps Back
Following its’ “Dream Crazier” campaign, Nike has also received recent backlash when Olympic runner Alysia Montaño, known for competing in 2014 while eight months pregnant, called out Nike’s policies in her NYT op-ed, “Nike Told me to Dream Crazy Until I wanted a Baby.”
Montaño discussed on CBS This Morning how Nike stops paying its female athletes when they get pregnant.
Nike includes a clause in its 2019 track and field sponsorship contracts that states they can cut sponsorship if an athlete does not meet their performance goals “for any reason.”
But a spokesperson from Nike also stated that there was “inconsistency” in performance-based payment reductions for female athletes across different sports and that it was standardized in 2018 “so that no female athlete is penalized financially for pregnancy.”
According to the NYTimes Nike has not specifically created an official policy that protects pregnant women, even though it often does choose to pay pregnant athletes.
Doing Something Right
The inclusion of a plus-size mannequin is a step in the right direction for Nike as a socially-conscious company. Shedding light on plus size athletes is a necessary and unfortunately revolutionary act.
The mannequin has gotten some backlash from fat-shamers but overall the public has met the stance with positivity and praise.
it’s truly wild the fatphobes freaking out about nike’s plus size mannequin. y’all spend all day saying we should just try and work out more to be healthy but don’t want us to have clothes to work out in??
just say you hate fat women and keep it pushin’. the hypocrisy is silly. pic.twitter.com/6ZmiLgSUNW
— tericka thee cutie (@terickaaa) June 9, 2019
Nike is one of the leading brands in the apparel industry.
That is exactly why everything Nike promotes publicly and behind closed doors has the potential of impacting society. Nike’s stance on social issues is on point and unafraid of risks.
All Nike has to do now is live up to those standards in its policies and future business models.