The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 81 — Down, Down bad

Under Armour's very bad year keeps getting worse

Good morning, folks! Happy Friday! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear! Thank you for spending a bit of time with me today. I truly appreciate it!

You all have spoken. There will be a Kicks You Wear community forum coming to the newsletter. I still need to figure out particulars — mostly where to host it. But once that’s hammered out, we lit. I’ll have more for you on this on Monday.

Now, let’s dive in.


Under Armour’s no good, terrible very bad year keeps getting worse

(Photo by John T on Unsplash)

Coronavirus hit the footwear and activewear industries especially hard. 2020 has been absolutely awful for just about every company in that mix with very few exceptions.

Under Armour might be having the worst year of them all. The company’s last three years or so have been an absolutely disaster, but this year feels different. Everything is culminating in a way where if they take one wrong step, the party is over.

Remember that Security and Exchanges Commission case we talked about way back when? It’s finally coming to a head, and the results for UA don’t look good.

  • Under Armour has been under investigation by the S.E.C. since 2017. The commission sent Wells notices to company founder Kevin Plank and CFO David Bergman.

  • The notices were notification the commission is likely to charge them with violating federal securities laws. UA is being accused of shifting third quarter sales from 2015 through the end of 2016, Bloomberg’s Rick Clough reports.

None of this is good. Under Armour is saying that it stands by its accounting practices from that timeline and believes it crossed all of the t’s and dotted all of the i’s. But if what the S.E.C. alleges is true, will likely be dire.

This is one of many issues the Baltimore based apparel company has.

  • On top of this S.E.C. investigation, they have more potential litigation on the way after terminating its massive 15-year, $280 million deal with UCLA. They were also reportedly considering doing the same with Cal, which would be another big mess.

  • And on top of that, the company’s sales are also tanking because of coronavirus. They projected their revenue to be down by 50% to 60% during their last earnings call.

The S.E.C. investigation is basically the cherry on top of a cake made out of complete garbage. There are only so many ways this can go. They could come away clean. But the worst case scenario is likely awful. It involves hefty fines. Plank may have to step away in a major sense. And that’s just the beginning.

I’m not sure if this is the end of the world for Under Armour. But the fact that I can say I’m “not sure” if it’s the end of the world speaks volumes about this situation.

This probably won’t be the end — multi-billion dollar companies like never truly go away. But there’s definitely a greater than .1% chance that this company will drastically shift in the next, say, five years. And that’s a disaster.

More will be revealed shortly when they host the next earnings call on Friday. Hopefully, for their sakes, there’s some good news buried in there.


Nike’s DnI rebuild

(Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash)

Nike is making big changes in the way of diversity and inclusion at the top of the company.

Felicia Mayo is taking over as the company’s chief talent, diversity and culture officer, Footwear News reports. Kellie Leonard stepped down after two years on the job.

Mayo — a Black woman — was the company’s Vice President of Human Resources. She started at Nike in 2019 after leaving Tesla where she worked as the HR Vice President and head of diversity.

She’s got a lot of work to do. Mayo’s hiring comes after the whole Black at Nike debacle.

It’s encouraging to see a Black woman’s face in the position that Mayo is in. She’s sure to bring vision, perspectives and knowledge that most executives don’t have simply from her experience as a Black woman.

But we must also remember what matters here. And those are results. It’s clear that the company has some sort of racism problem that this Instagram account unearthed. Yes, Nike has been a front facing supporter of Black culture and Black communities, but there must be a shift from things within the company.

Let’s hope we see it. In these times that we’re living in, where Black people are under attack and Black culture is stolen, we need it.

By the way, we got some details on Nike and Jordan brands first major donations they announced they’d make last month:

  • Jordan Brand is donating $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families Movement. They’re also donating $500,000 to Black Voters Matter.

  • Nike is donating $1 million each to NAACP Empowerment Programs, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Black Girls Code.

Great start. Good stuff.


The Air Coles

Puma is launching a signature basketball sneaker with J Cole’s name attached to it. Just typing that sentence out feels extremely weird. The Puma RS-Dreamer is dropping on July 31.

Some Puma endorsees have already been spotted in the shoe.

  • Kyle Kuzma most notably has been wearing the shoe in the Lakers’ scrimmage games in the NBA bubble.

@mb3five in the PUMA RS Dreamer at @sacramentokings practice! #NBAKicks
July 15, 2020

It’s a legitimate signature basketball sneaker and Puma’s first since relaunching back into the basketball business back in 2017.

That’s why it’s so hard to figure out what’s actually going on here. Now, don’t get me wrong — this shoe is good. But it’s just so weird that Puma’s first signature basketball shoe would go to…a rapper?

Even the commercial is a bit confusing. Master P is narrating it. He’s one of the most influential rappers of all-time who also played in the NBA. It makes it seem as if Cole is trying to do the same thing? He’s shooting in the background.

Don’t get it twisted. J Cole is a big enough superstar to have his name attached to a sneaker. And he used to play basketball, so there is a connection there. And the Master P connection is also great.

But seeing a basketball player wear a rapper’s signature shoe to do the job he’s doing is just sort of weird.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean it won’t work. So let’s wait and see how this unfolds.


Union, WYD?

We live in the era of collabs now, and the Jordan Brand x Union AJ1 collab from back in 2018 was one of the best ones we’ve seen in recent years. It makes total sense that Jordan Brand would want to go back to that well.

I regret to inform you that Jordan Brand going back to the well was an absolutely horrible decision.

We’ve been getting different looks at the Union Jordan 4 over the last few weeks and GOOD LORD throw this thing in a dumpster.

That’s supposedly the best look yet at those joints and, uh, let’s just say they’re not for me. This looks like a shoe a lego would wear. A Michael Jordan lego, I guess. That’s not a compliment, btw.

Definitely going to pass on this one. Good shot, though.


#TheKicksWeWear

First, the homie Eddie jumped in with the Nike Shox Gravity and, MAN, I really wish I hadn’t slept on these.

Then the Céspedes family BBQ showed us love with the Atmos AF1’s! Lots of AF1 love today.

Storm came through in the Spiz’ikes and I maintain this is one of the most underrated Jordan Brand models ever. We need more.

The homie Nick came through wearing the Yeezy Crocs! They really exist!!!

And then Adrian flexed heavy on us with the Off-White AJ5’s. I’m still kind of salty about it — not gonna lie. Still my guy tho.

The homie Greer popped out in the LeBron Media Day 7’s and then LeBron hit a game winner. Coincidence? I think not.

The homie Norman was doing work in some AJ1 mids. That MMJ life, family.

The homie Jose hit us with the Bron Icon joints and I cannot get enough of this shoe.

GoJo definitely did what he needed to do with these Travis 1’s. Something about them laces, man.

The better Mike came through in the Tailwind 4’s and this shoe is absolutely undefeated.

The homie Brett and his bae came through flexing in the Space Hippie 04’s. GOALZ.

Then the homie Cealey ABSOLUTELY sent us all packing with these custom AF1’s. Pack. It. Up. My goodness. What a flex.

Y’all got so much heat, man. We the flyest community out here. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise.


Thank you so much for spending your Friday morning with me! I truly appreciate it. Y’all are the best people.

More details on how we’re going to kick off the KYW discussion on Monday! Cannot wait to share with y’all (mostly because I can’t wait to try and figure this thing out.)

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

Signing off.

Sykes 💯