A friend who works for a sporting-goods chain told me last night Nike apparently is no longer going to make plus-size workout apparel for women; her store received the company's 2015 catalog, and it doesn't contain any women's sizes larger than an XL. She’s upset about the decision, because the stuff sells; to her, it’s a boneheaded move on Nike’s part, and she’s hoping other companies don’t follow suit.
I’m hoping they don’t, either. To me, this is all very personal, and Nike’s “business decision” -- if, in fact, this is what the company has decided -- makes me sad and angry.
Fifteen months ago, I weighed 206.2 pounds. When I made the decision to lose the weight, along with that decision came a second one: to get my size-18 body in shape. And to do that, I was going to need to exercise.
So I bought a pair of size XXL black Nike shorts and threw on a big t-shirt and got out there and made it happen. And happen, it did – in no small part because I had comfortable clothes in which to work out. And quite a few of those items had the Nike "swoosh" on them; the brand fits me well and has the wide waistband that I like, and the clothing is durable.
But if Nike has in fact chosen to stop producing the sizes I used to wear, I can't begin to understand the company's logic. What are you thinking, Nike? That only svelte people exercise? Can a company that monolithic and influential really be that stupid? Some people I see at the gym are in great shape, yes. But even more are the size I was 15 months ago, or heavier. And – kudos to them – they’re working to become healthier.
I don't need to ask what deal is, because we both know: You think overweight people don’t look hot in Nike clothes. Well, they may look hot – as in sweaty, as we all do when we work out – but they don’t look the way you want people to look in your brightly colored spandex. You want people to look alluring. You want people who are working out to look at the hottie in the Nike tank and say, “If I buy that Nike tank, I, too, will be hot. All it will take is that magic, magic tank.”
But look at the woman in the photo above. She's not a size 2 -- not should she have to be. And she looks attractive and terrific, and she represents you well.
Let me clue you in, Nike. I'm 51 and the “hot” train sailed a long time ago, but my body is in the best shape it’s been since … well, ever. And although I'm certainly no model, I look and feel OK in your "misses"-sized clothes.
But guess what? If I find out you're really no longer going to make clothes for the former me, the smaller me is no longer going to wear them, and I’m going to try really hard to make sure no one I care about wears them. Why?
Because you’re supposed to be about health and fitness, Nike. Your target customer should be the 206-pound 50-year-old who’s decided it’s time to get in shape, because she knows comfortable exercise clothing is key to sustaining a workout, and you make quality clothing, and she has the desire and the means to purchase quality clothing. She also has the desire to sweat that clothing and watch it gradually grow too big. And then she has the desire and the means to buy more Nike clothing in smaller and smaller sizes.
But she won’t, because if you've in fact decided not to create clothing for women who can’t fit into a size 8, that decision is reprehensible. There are plenty of other companies that get that size and worth and attractiveness don’t go hand-in-hand, and chances are, many of those companies are hosting summer sales right now. If your strategy is this boneheaded, I hope you feel its effects at the cash register, and soon.