Launching a product across the globe is no easy task. We have all come across examples of slogans, company names and designs which didn’t translate well in other cultures. Nike have now given us a new case study of what happens when culture gets mixed with business.
Nike has had to pull a pair of its leggings from the market after being criticised for being racist.
According to The Daily Mail, the Pro Tattoo Tech Tights that were recently launched by sports company looked very similar to the tatau tattoos that are worn by the men in Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa.
Therefore, the tights caused quite the stir in Australia and New Zealand as people there believed the leggings to exploiting their culture.
It even sparked government interest! New Zealand parliament member Su’a William Sio stated: “Before you launch into something like this, there’s generally a consultation. I don’t think Nike has taken the time to do that.”
In August, a petition to pull the leggings was created on Change.org. On this petition, the tights were described as “’direct violation of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific, and is furthermore in violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
This statement was widely supported. One of the supporters was Jay Laga’aia, who, according to The Huffington Post, wrote: “My culture is not for sale. It is free to those who ask and wish to learn the history behind the patterns. To steal purely for profit is mean spirited and ignorant.”
After 750 people signed the petition, Nike decided to stop the production of the leggings and pull them from the shelves.
The company released the following statement : “The Nike Tattoo Tech collection was inspired by tattoo graphics. We apologise to anyone who views this design as insensitive to any specific culture. No offense was intended.”
Not everyone agrees with the view that the leggings were offensive and had to be retrieved.
On Facebook, many users voiced their opinion about the incident, and in general, most commenters did not find the tights racist. According to the Daily Mail, one user believed “People are too sensitive. It’s a pair of leggings. How is that offensive. The culture has inspired the fashion.” Another one even saw a greater good in the inspiration Nike took from the less known culture: “’We should all be willing to share our cultures in order to educate others so we have a greater understanding of each other.”
The Tattoo Tech Tights are not the first Nike product to be pulled from the shelves; according to The Huffington Post, the sports giant earlier retrieved their “Black and Tan” sneakers which met opposition from the Irish. The same happened to their “Gold Digging’ shirt, which women found offensive.
What is your opinion? Do you think Nike was right to pull the tights?