The “Nike Exodus”: What It Means For The Industry

You’ve most likely heard the news. Earlier this week, three of Nike‘s top designers left for their biggest rival: the brand with three stripes, (irony?) Adidas. What does this mean for the sneaker industry as a whole? Will the balance of power shift in Adidas’s direction? There’s a lot of questions to be answered.

A quick background on the three power players: First, there’s Marc Dolce. His specialty is modernizing popular retro models, as evidenced by his work on the Lunar Force 1’s. He’s also worked on signature basketball models for various Nike athletes, and football (of the American variety) gear.

Next, there’s Mark Miner, the man responsible for Nike’s wildly successful Free Run line of sneakers. Creating a shoe that’s worn by people from all walks of life, from hardcore athletes, to girls who act like they go to the gym way more than they do, to just an average Joe who needs a pair to kick around in, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Last but certainly not least, there’s Denis Dekovic. He’s notorious for spearheading Nike Football (the European version) with cleats like the Magista and the Mercurial Superfly. If you’ve had a pair of Nike soccer cleats on your feet, there’s a pretty good chance that he had something to do with them.

So now the logical question is “what happens next?” Does Adidas start to eat into Nike’s market share, eventually de-throning them? Does nothing happen at all? Here’s what I think.

Nike is on top of the sporting goods world, and have been for a very long time. Although losing three talented designers is a blow, it’s not enough to stop the roll of the all-encompassing empire that they’ve become. This isn’t the first time Nike has lost some creative, talented people and it won’t be the last. Think they’re not going to continue innovating and staying ahead of the curve? You’re kidding yourself. Plus, don’t forget about Jordan Brand. With the craze for retros and team models still going strong, Nike will maintain a dominant market share come hell or high water.

However, this is a chance for Adidas to step up and really prove themselves as a worthy competitor. They’ve got a outrageously talented staff already, from Yohji Yamamoto to Jeremy Scott, to Pharrell Williams, to the almighty Yeezus Christ himself, Kanye West.

Adidas will likely push innovation more than they have been, and may even come close to or top Nike with their excellent staff. However, with the stranglehold Nike has on the industry, they’ve got their work cut out for them if they even want to come close. Will they be able to topple the giants? Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure though, it’s bound to be an interesting story to follow.


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