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The Boeing of sports apparel

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The new universally-hated new MLB uniforms, which look like incredibly cheap knock-offs of an actual uniform, introduced by Nike and Fanatics are will be one and done. And while there’s a natural tendency to finger Fanatics — a maker of notoriously shoddy merchandise that has a near-monopoly on league-branded apparel because professional sports owners both like to get paid and hate their fans — this was apparently Nike’s doing:

Major League Baseball plans to address its uniform fiasco after changes this spring to the standard jerseys and pants led to widespread complaints from players and fans, according to a memo obtained Sunday night by ESPN.

The prominent modifications include a return to larger lettering on the back of jerseys, remedying mismatched gray tops and bottoms and addressing the new Nike jerseys’ propensity to collect sweat, according to the memo distributed to players by the MLB Players Association on Sunday.

The changes, which will happen at the latest by the beginning of the 2025 season, will also include fixes to the pants, widely panned this spring for being see-through.

The union informed players of the coming changes in a letter that placed the blame on Nike and the debut of its Vapor Premier uniform, which was advertised for its superior performance but remains disliked by players.

“This has been entirely a Nike issue,” the memo to players read. “At its core, what has happened here is that Nike was innovating something that didn’t need to be innovated.”

I’ve never been much of a Nike guy — I give my Official Endorsement to Brooks for gym and Hoka for long periods on your feet — but according to Drew Magary the decline at Nike is more widespread:

I think you see the pattern here. Nike, not unlike a host of other once-vaunted companies, is making cheaper, worse products and selling them as the future made real. They’re also cutting workers by the thousands. This is right out of Silicon Valley playbook, which a company like Nike isn’t supposed to be reading from.

This is because, for my entire lifetime, Nike has been cool. They had the coolest shoes. They repped the coolest athletes and had the bright idea to give those athletes their own signature product lines (watch Ben Affleck’s Air, perhaps the least essential film I’ve ever seen, if you’d like to find out more). And they had the best ads. Bo knowsChicks dig the long ballI am not a role model. When I was a kid, I wanted Nike shoes. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an NFL player and have a Nike contract. When I was working in the ad business as an adult, I wanted to work on the Nike account, because they, along with their longtime ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, represented the apex of the profession.

I am now 47 and I wear Skechers, because no Nike sneaker has felt comfortable on my feet since 1993. If I own any Nike apparel, it’s likely because I got it off the rack at TJ Maxx. The Nike brand that exists in the mind has nothing to do with the Nike that’s currently squeezing their athletes into near-thongs and misappropriated ballet tights. That they’re willing to get into bed with Fanatics, and give them control over products as genuinely consequential as Caitlin Clark’s first pro uniform, says even more the current state of Nike than it does about their bumbling manufacturer. What kind of shitass company lets Michael Rubin take command of their most important products?

Making quality products is becoming increasingly inconsistent with the dominant ethos of corporate America.

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