The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 73 — Read the room, Nike

Coronavirus continues to show us the worst

Good morning, folks! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear! Happy Friday! We made it. I hope y’all have a fantastic 4th of July weekend.

We’re drawing AGAIN, y’all. Our latest winner, Storm, wanted to pass her W on to someone else because she wanted to brighten another person’s day. It doesn’t get any better than that. So we’ll draw later on this evening, once again.

Let’s dive right into it.

Now is not the time

(Photo by Thomas Serer on Unsplash)

Nike’s earnings call last Friday revealed what was essentially a bunch of losses in the worst quarter that the company has had in quite some time.

But what was buried underneath of all that was the fact that the company would also be laying off an undisclosed number of workers throughout the next quarter. We don’t know how many and we don’t know what positions they’ll be in. We just know they’re coming.

  • Most people, naturally, thought the layoffs were a result of Nike’s poor quarter. They were wrong.

  • The layoffs are all part of what Nike is calling an effort to “reduce complexity,” company CEO Jon Donahoe told Complex. Basically, as the company transitions to more of a digital product, they’re cutting positions they don’t think they need.

Look, layoffs are always awful. There’s never a good time for them, but the truth is they happen. As companies grow and morph, they reevaluate. And sometimes, certain positions are not apart of those plans. That’s a reality.

Donahoe has his own vision for Nike. It’s a slimmer one where everything is direct-to-consumer. This is him trying to create that vision. He had a six month evaluation and now he’s making changes.

But here are some more facts about our reality. We are in the midst of a global pandemic where, not only our economy, but people’s literal livelihoods are in crisis.

  • The unemployment rate is still hefty at 11.1%. Folks will tell you it dipped with 4.8 million jobs created in June, but a good chunk of those gains were from temporarily laid off employees returning to work. Not actually new jobs created.

  • The number of folks who permanently lost jobs last month went up by 25%, Axios’ Felix Salmon points out in his Axios Edge newsletter, from 2.2 million to 2.8 million.

On top of that, the extra $600 paid out to folks with unemployment claims from the CARES act is set to expire at the end of the month. Add all that together, and you’re going to have a whole lot of people who don’t have a lot of options when it comes to income.

What’s more, the money that most of these companies are amassing from government subsidies or cuts is largely being used to fund new company initiatives or changes like the ones Nike is making, not for new hires.

And, by the way, the U.S. had more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases pop up in a single day on Wednesday with 10,000 coming from Florida alone.

So, sure, on one hand it’s fine for companies to make wholesale changes to their strategies. And sometimes, when that gets done, layoffs happen. That’s just how this economic ecosystem works.

But on the other, the timing could not be worse. These layoffs probably could’ve waited. Nike is a multi-billion dollar corporation — it’s nothing to hold the ship steady right now and make changes when the storm ends.

Instead, they’re just moving forward and throwing crew mates over as the seas get rougher and rougher. It’s awful. What a first move from Phil Donahoe.

Virgil gon’ Virgil

(Photo by Leon Skibitzki on Unsplash)

The last couple months for Virgil Abloh have been, well, let’s just say they’ve been rough.

  • We know about the infamous $50 donation from the Louis V Artistic Director and how he decried looters and rioters during a national uprising about police brutality.

  • Now, he’s under fire for producing this absolutely awful cover art for Pop Smoke’s posthumous album.

It gets worse. Not only did he produce that absolutely dreadful cover art, but apparently it wasn’t even his initial idea.

Conceptual artist Ryan Ripps — who Abloh has worked with in the past — took to Instagram to air out his former contemporary and accuse him of stealing his idea for Pop Smoke’s album cover.

Honestly, when you look at the art side by side? There’s definitely something there.

Not only is this a case where he’s stolen someone else’s art without their permission, but it’s a case where he’s also put out some garbage to go along with it.

The positions he currently holds are important. He’s a key figure at both Nike and Louis Vuitton — two of the biggest entities in his field. So, naturally, we have high standards.

But, if we can have an honest conversation about Virgil for a second. This is just what he does.

  • Taking other pieces from other artists and only slightly tweaking them has been Abloh’s go-to for years now. Sometimes it leads to great things. Sometimes it leads to garbage.

  • He’s told us all about it. In fact, he’s got a rule for it. He calls it the “3% approach.

It’s not the first time he’s been accused of stealing. It won’t be the last, either. And, if we’re staying in our honest bag, lots of artists steal. When you put out heat? No one really cares. When it’s trash, they go in. Virgil put out trash, so they’re going in.

Is he good enough to get through all of this on the other side? Probably. But we’re here to hold him accountable, either way.

Breaking gender barriers

I’m a big believer in gender neutral sneakers and apparel. Our current system does way more harm than good.

That’s why the work that PerryCo. Shoes is doing is so important. The homie Greer Engonga put me on to the company earlier this week.

The kicks are pretty sleek.

We’re participating in Black Friday & Small Biz Saturday. Use code BF2019 for 30% off of your order. Ends Saturday at 11:59pm. 👟
November 29, 2019

Here’s more info.

  • This Chicago-based sneaker company sells unisex shoes and apparel. Shoes, shorts, socks, shirts — you name it, they have it.

  • On top of that, they’re black owned. Brittney Perry founded the company in 2015 with the goal of creating a more inclusive marketplace for sneakers.

Her bio on the website pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Lifelong sneakerhead Brittney Perry grew up facing a market saturated by sneakers made for and by men. With few options marketed to women at the time, Brittney resorted to buying men’s sneakers, but felt the need for something more inclusive. In 2015, Brittney launched PerryCo shoes with the mission of creating a genderless sneaker that can appeal to all styles and identities.

This is the experience for so many women who love sneakers. It’s made very clear that they’re not the target audience, between the size hunting that lady sneakerheads have to do and the lack of creativity in women’s sneaker designs.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. After diving in to that, you have to talk about how few women even make it on design teams at these companies and how very few women are sitting on executive boards.

That’s why supporting businesses like this are so important. They’re disruptive. Change always starts at the ground level. Places like here are where it begins.

Nordstrom’s massive L

So I didn’t really make a huge effort to get the Nike Dunk SP University Red joints that dropped on Wednesday. And BOY am I glad I did that.

Because Nordstrom was out here cancelling orders left and right, fam. Somehow, someway the company oversold their stock. They were confirming orders that they didn’t actually have. And so many people ordered.

It got so bad that they had to put out a statement.

"The demand for Nike shoe drops can be significant, though we often have a limited supply of product available for customers to shop. We hate to hear we've disappointed customers and hope we'll be able to serve them with future Nike launches."

So many confirmations. So many cancellations. Fam. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak. The L of the day goes to Nordstrom. Also, shoutout to their shipping manager who had one of the worst Wednesdays of all-time.

Look on the bright side! At least we’re finally done with these University Color Dunks, though. Let’s enjoy our summer L’s together!


Y’all know the VIBEZ! The Kicks We Wear! We BYKE! Let’s get into it.

First, the homie JB kicked us off with a MEAN Sheed AF1 throwback. YEESH.

Then the homie Marcus came through with the Meek Mill #REFORM Clydes. SO clean.

Then our guy Kirby came through in the Human Race Holi Festival NMD and GOOD LORD.

Then the homie Greezy came through with the Yeezy 700’s and the Cap’n Crunch socks!

The homie Nick came through in the Yeezy 350 v2 Hyperspace joints and, yo, why have I not seen these anywhere else!?

Then the homie Alex came through in the Air Max 97 Shanghai joints and they’re SO clean.

The homie Mike had his baby boy come through in some HEATERS.

Our guy Shawn P came through in the Asics Gel Nandi and I regret sleeping on these joints so much.

The homie Jasmine came through in the Space Hippie 04’s which is a MASSIVE flex considering that they ain’t even release yet.

Then the homie J Block came through STUNTING in the Cactus Jack 270’s.

And then the homie Greer sent us home in the Union AJ1’s with a MEAN lace swap. SO FIRE.

Y’ALL. ARE. THE. BEST. Keep the heat comin’ fam!

Issa wrap! That does it for Friday. Thank you for rocking with me today. We’ll talk more on Monday.

Make sure you’re checking your e-mails today for that raffle W! Best of luck, family. Don’t forget to tell your friends to subscribe.

As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯