What do almost every American based athletic apparel company have in common? They are filled with ex-Nike employees.
In terms of working in the athletic apparel industry, Nike is the best training grounds there is. it’s like getting a second 4 year degree- there doesn’t seem to be an athletic apparel company in the world that sees Nike on your resume and says “Yeah we’re just not interested in that skill set”.
Nike is going through some tough times- though every company bulges out and then decompresses. They are still the innovators in the space, and they are still have the best hold of iPhone Applications of any of the major athletic wear brands. They are so big they are hard to even quantify as an individual company. It’s such a large company you can probably find a job there doing anything a company actually needs a position for.
The trade off, however, is that it’s harder to get hired and harder to stand out. I hear about a lot of people who get intern jobs there that don’t pan out as well- with the thought that maybe they were never suppose to pan out. Given the fact the just started debloating, now is a particularly bad time to start applying.
The bigger Problem with Nike- it’s muddied its vision. With a muddy vision it’s hard to be inspired. Working for someone like Nancy Green of Athleta is easy- she has a clear goal and a clear path to how she will get to the goal. “Empowering women sells clothes”. Even if her message doesn’t work for sales, it’s hard to not get behind her vision.
We all know Nike’s brand and message. I mean we can feel it in the air- they make innovated clothes for athletes. They have the newest materials with newest designs made to optimize performance. The problem comes to life that when you get to be as large as Nike though, that your brand doesn’t get to be that simple. At some point, even though everyone shakes their head no, they have to have a girl in full make up getting ready for a run. They need to cast a bigger net, and the Nike symbol is such a strong symbol they want it on everything to make sure it is reasonably successful.
The problem is, it’s hard to cast such a big net and stay cool. Adidas has started to catch up to Nike in some ways- but Adidas is going to run into a similar problem very soon. How can you get so large and stay cool? Isn’t it cool to be small right now? To find the new hip thing has always been part of what it means to be an influencer. Adidas might be a second best guess as a place to update your resume. I’m also very fond of Under Armour as they have a lot of growth potential, even though they are having a lot of trouble right now.