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Footwear Analyst: Outrage Over Nike's Betsy Ross Shoe Comes From Outside Its Teen Demographic

Footwear Analyst: Outrage Over Nike's Betsy Ross Shoe Comes From Outside Its Teen Demographic

Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) became embroiled in yet another patriotic debate ahead of the Fourth of July holiday this week. 

The world’s largest sportswear brand is receiving backlash for releasing and then quickly discontinuing its latest Air Max release, the "Betsy Ross Flag" edition, featuring the early version of the American flag with thirteen colonies represented. 

The decision was attributed to the flag's questionable symbolism and was largely credited to Nike endorser Colin Kaepernick, who reportedly influenced Nike's decision. 

Kaepernick told Nike that Betsy Ross flag "had been co-opted by groups espousing racist idelogies," according to The New York Times, which cited a person with knowledge of the conversation. 

Leaked versions of the shoe were fetching up to $2,500 per pair on footwear resale platform StockX until new CEO Scott Cutler announced his decision to remove the shoe from the website.

Powell: Impact On Nike Limited 

Footwear expert Matt Powell of the NPD Group said Nike made an unfortunate mistake in creating the shoe, but the decision to pull it has been improperly credited to Kaepernick; Powell said he believes it was an executive decision. 

"The press is trying to make it sound like he forced this to happen, and I really believe anybody inside Nike who saw this product and surfaced the issue would have forced this to happen as well," he told Benzinga. 

"People try to make this a Kaepernick thing and it is really not — that’s not the crux of the story." 

Nike's decision to remove the shoe was the correct one, Powell said, adding that the company needs to be more careful with its limited releases 

Ultimately, Powell said it was the correct decision by Nike to remove the shoe and the company needs to be more careful with its limited releases — especially after Nike erred earlier this year, using a Panamanian design on its Puerto Rico shoe.

The outrage toward Nike is generally coming from an older demographic rather than Nike's core consumer, Powell said. 

“Nike has always focused on the teen consumer; the fact that it is older people [who] are complaining about this makes it [immaterial] for Nike."

States React 

Perhaps the biggest implications from the story will come in the form of Nike's planned factory in Arizona, after Gov. Doug Ducey expressed outrage toward the company and threatened to pull tax benefits utilized to lure the company.

Other state governors have taken this opportunity to lure Nike in, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“There are a whole lot of states who would love to have a new plant that would add to their tax base and employ a bunch of people. There is hardly a state that wouldn’t jump at the chance,” Powell said. 

Nike shares were up 0.6% at $86.72 at the time of publication Friday. 

Related Links:

What The Kaepernick Campaign Means For Nike

'Rebranding Reebok': Experts Weigh In On Shaq's Interest In Footwear Nameplate

Public domain photo via Wikimedia


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Posted-In: Colin Kaepernick Matt Powell NPD Group The New York TimesNews Media Interview Best of Benzinga

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