One aspect really surprised me in last lecture: the sustainability attempts of Nike. In particular, Nike produced jerseys for the Brazilian soccer team made out of recycled plastic bottles.
To me Nike was always presented as a typical example of how to not act sustainable especially in social aspects. Nike mainly focuses on marketing; the production of goods is outsourced due to cost efficiency respectively profit maximization. Nike is often heavily criticized for producing abroad at minimum costs not enforcing social standards. The Clean Clothes Campaign investigated the prices and distribution of value along Nike’s value chain. The € 98.50 a Nike sneaker costs at a shop are distributed as follows:
€ 49.50 Retailer (incl. VAT)
€ 32.00 Brand
€ 8.50 Material
€ 5.00 Cost of transportation, taxes
€ 3.00 Margin of producer
€ 0.50 Wage for the sewer
The disproportionate distribution of monetary value is obvious, which is an omnipresent phenomenon in the textile industry. Fierce competition and the profit-maximizing objective drive companies to continuously reduce costs. Outsourcing is often the chosen option. Lower wages in developing and emerging markets allow cost reductions. Outsourcing to less developed countries, however, does imply probably problematic social and ecological aspects. In this context, it is up to the outsourcing company to define its strategy. Nike has been involved in several scandals regarding social standards in the supply chain. Thus, Nike does not seem to pay attention to local sourcing and did not take on a pioneer role regarding setting social standards.
As Nike did not do a good job regarding social standards, I started to google a bit on Nike’s sustainability attempts. This led me to “Nike Considered Design”. With Considered Design Nike sets standards for its products, including e.g. easier recycling and reuse of shoes. Michael Braungart, who is a founder of the cradle to cradle certification, has consulted Nike already in the 1990s, regarding e.g. the choice of recyclable materials. Information online stated that Nike Considered Design products are not labeled “cradle to cradle” due to unsuccessful negotiation on the license fees of the cradle to cradle label.
What does it mean that Nike now engages in sustainable production?
Nike as a major mainstream company allocates resources to the development of sustainable products. This can be seen as evidence for the arrival of sustainability aspects in mainstream consumption. Furthermore, it is likely that Nike sees a profitable future market for sustainable fashion.