From gun control to racial equality, an increasing number of footwear brands and retailers are taking a stand when it comes to some of today’s most heated debates.
Toms, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart are among those putting their brands on the line on the issue of gun violence, while athletic power house Nike has stood its ground on the Black Lives Matter movement as well as immigration.
Although the jury may still be out on whether companies are winning or losing consumer support by their supposedly controversial positions, their bold moves have struck a chord with today’s younger consumers who appreciate authenticity from product to messaging.
Just yesterday, Toms founder Blake Mycoskie announced on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” that his company will be putting considerable financial backing and social media push behind the gun violence issue. The decision was sparked by the Nov. 7 bar shooting in California, which is a short distance from his home and Toms’ headquarters.
Like Mycoskie, retailers have been going out on a limb when it comes to issues such as gun control. In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., that took the lives of 17, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they would no longer sell assault-style weapons.
Even those in the designer world took a stand on the issue. Italian fashion house Gucci pledged to donate $500,000 to the March for Our Lives rally — a March 2018 student-led demonstration in support of tighter gun control. In a statement to FN’s sister publication, WWD, creative director Alessandro Michele said, “We stand with March for Our Lives and the fearless students across the country who demand that their lives and safety become a priority. We have all been directly or indirectly impacted by these senseless tragedies.”
Earlier this year, Nike got behind NBA player Colin Kaepernick — who kneeled during the 2016 NFL preseason game in protest of racism — including him in its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. While there were individuals who called for a boycott of Nike goods, celebrities and influencers supported the athletic giant. The brand’s CEO, Mark Parker, in September also took a public stance against the repeal of a 30-year-old Oregon law — often referred to as a “sanctuary law” — that limits the use of state and local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws.
“Nike employs people from all over the world; we can attest to the unique value, contributions and innovations that people from diverse backgrounds add to Nike and to Oregon’s culture and economy,” Parker wrote in a formal opposition to Ballot Measure 105 in the Oregon Voter’s Guide. “Ending Oregon’s sanctuary law will damage Oregon’s long-standing track record as a place that attracts diverse talent from across the globe.”
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