It was a mixed week for the industry’s athletic powerhouses. For one, Nike had the sports and marketing worlds buzzing after the US soccer team won the Women’s World Cup. But it also remained in the headlines for the lingering public controversy over its recall of sneakers featuring the Betsy Ross flag. Meanwhile, for Adidas, several minority and LGBTQ employees told FN that they were “sad” and “defeated” by the brand’s ongoing diversity-effort struggles.
In a new FN feature, editors curate five of the week’s most-compelling stories that you need to read.
Eight months have passed since FN first reported on diversity challenges at Adidas’s Portland, Ore., offices. In that time, the German-based brand has continued its streak of sales growth in the North American market and has also added Beyoncé to its all-star roster — while enjoying the now-estimated billion-dollar success of Kanye West’s Yeezy franchise. But on the internal diversity and inclusion front, things have been slow to change. Over the past few weeks, multiple sources — including LGBTQ and Asian employees who said their stories were missing from recent headlines — detailed to FN new claims of being disenfranchised at the brand. In response to FN’s report this week, Kristin Parrott, Adidas’ SVP of human resources for North America, sent a letter to staff outlining some of the company’s latest plans to improve diversity and inclusion at its Portland, Ore., campus. “We know it’s crucial that we have and support a diverse workforce that represents a variety of ideas, strengths, interests and cultural backgrounds. At the same time, actions speak louder than words. We understand that we must demonstrate progress and not simply talk about it,” the memo reads.
Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath — if they weren’t household names before their Women’s World Cup victory, Nike made sure they were in the immediate moments after. The brand topped off Sunday’s emotional and emblematic win with a stirring video ad, which included the tagline “Never Stop Winning.” The ad — which had received over 94,000 likes on Twitter and 43,000 retweets within hours of its reveal — made a formidable statement about the brand’s accelerated focus on the women’s market, a category that has long challenged athletic brands.
The year is half over, but the fashion world has already minted new billion-dollar businesses. Four companies — StockX, The RealReal, Revolve and Away — have also legitimized several new-school approaches to retail, most notably resale and influencer marketing. What’s more, buzzy direct-to-consumer startups are also still investment targets. FN looks at the formidable four — and how they did it.
A week after lambasting the sportswear giant for pulling a pair of sneakers featuring the Betsy Ross flag, the Arizona governor took to Twitter, in an apparent warming to the Swoosh’s manufacturing plant in the city of Goodyear. “This is good news for Arizona and for Goodyear,” Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted. “500 plus jobs. Over $184 million in capital investment. Arizona is open for business, and we welcome Nike to our state.”
Marina Larroudé, once a magazine editor, was recently tapped to lead Schutz USA. In FN’s recently launched column, Hire Up, the longtime fashion power player talks about her career — with stints in publishing to serving as Barneys fashion director — and where Schutz, part of Alexandre Birman’s Brazilian powerhouse Arezzo & Co, will head next.