When Nike decided to team up with ALYX designer Matthew M. Williams for a technical series collaboration they saw new opportunities to introduce new products which combined computational design and data.
Although this may be true, the signature swoosh brand has become the target of public scrutiny in London. Many folks are accusing the company of exploiting London’s gang culture. At the center of all the controversy, rest the Nike Balaclava.
Gang violence has been a hot-button issue in the nation, especially considering earlier this year British law enforcement requested that YouTube remove at least 30 UK drill rap music videos. Although the videos did resurface elsewhere, the goal was to curtail gang violence in the region. Although authorities have made strides other crimes are on the rise and sleek and stealthy look of the Nike Balaclava has people concerned about their safety.
Londoners across the country took to Twitter to express their grievances. Some called the company out for making “gang culture” look appealing to impressionable youths. Adding to that, the headgear can be fashioned with shoulder straps which some say resembles holsters. Others made a point to scrutinize the company for using a black model for the product ad. They say a black model and the context of the product predicates racial stereotypes regarding gangs.
Nike has responded to the accusations in a statement given to The Independent. A Nike representative stated, “These products were part of a wider Nike Training collection, styled on different models and available in multiple markets around the world. We are in no way condoning or encouraging the serious issue of criminal and gang culture.”
The Balaclava retails for a price of $80 USD. However many retailers and Nike included have decided to pull the product from store shelves.
So we've had the #Puma "Drug House" promotion and now #Nike are using a black guy to promote a balaclava with straps and pockets. Where there's blood there's money. #knifecrime #nikebalaclava #london #traphouse #bbc #skynews #channel4 #itvnews #sportswear #crime #BLACKONBLACK #UK pic.twitter.com/d3kDCRdvnE
— Anthony Benjamin (@benjaminphotos) August 20, 2018
Now @Nike @nikestore @NikeStoreEurope Are endorsing gun and knife crime, as well as enforcing racial profiling. Well done!!!!!#nike #balaclava #racialstereotypes #knifecrime pic.twitter.com/YOmt0vmS6I
— Liss 🇩🇲🇧🇧🇯🇲 (@Liss_11) August 20, 2018
I think you’ve made a big mistake on this one, targeting the current Gang culture for profit, there’s 100’s of dead kids parents that you should be thinking about before you made these, let alone put them out for sale. pic.twitter.com/lPRoYWzyWX
— MR DT © (@MrDtAFC) August 19, 2018