Tag Archives: Nike

Ugly Dolls more than skin deep

Handcrafted to look sloppyDo you remember several years ago, when Ugly Dolls crawled out of the Cabbage Patch like that season’s Troll Doll? We have an obsession with fugly. Except they were trendy, hand sewn in someone’s attic and sold at exclusive boutiques, but had the aesthetic sophistication of sock monkeys, sharing 98% of their DNA.

Uglydolls were the must-have gift for those whose taste was thread-bare chic. These eclectic one-of-a-kind one-offs were, it appeared, sewn by a single hand, or at most by several one-handed cottage industrialists. The design called for single flat panels stitched together without too much care, with scraps fastened cockeye to form the features. Of course the price you paid for such deliberate off-the-wall on-the-mark anti-production-value plush toys reflected where you could get them. Melrose Avenue haute-suture or Ebay.

I found an Uglydoll display at a local boutique and saw the burgeoning cast of character-actors and side-kicks the collection has become. Plus now, to spare the mythical not-so-nimble seamstresses behind the first batch, these new generation Uglies herald from China. There is no good reason I suppose to deny the mass market access to the fruit of playful creative ninnies. But lo, the price tags are still show-off high! Is there no consumer benefit to derive from 55¢/hr wages?

Running shoes which are priced $150 at retail cost less than $2 to make. But we know Nike has to recoup an incredible amount for R&D. They’ve got us running on air for goodness sake, that technological leap had to be expensive. Plus someone’s got to pony up for the clever ads. Nike CEO Phil Knight doesn’t advertise just for the sake of his vanity.

The only engineering required with ugly plush toys is how to inject into the factory process the “slight variations which enhances [sic] their appearance of uniqueness.” Can you picture Chinese overseers enforcing deliberately sloppy -but fastidious- handiwork?

So why would the prices be kept so high? Even if sold only through specialty stores which require a 100% Keystone markup, there would still be leeway.

Can you do the math? Probably the labor expended to make one plush toy would remain constant over the varying production scenarios. Let’s compare the options: Manufacturing wages in the US have declined sharply, but at $12/hour, for how much did they have to sell the original Ugly? If we were considering a sweatshop in Los Angeles, the wage would be $4-$6/hour. So now we’ve half-ed it. Contracting a factory in Saipan or Guam, among the US possessions, would mean half again as much, $2-$3/hour and we’d still get to say MADE IN AMERICA. Moving the production to Mainland China means a prison wage of $0.55/hour. That’s less than 1/20th of the original cost.

Unless we hear news reports of Chinese laborers landing dream jobs sewing Ugly Dolls from straw to gold, somebody is making quite a grotesque, not even fugly, mark-up.

Nike tags more advertizing surface

Viking uniform a maze of swooshesOh my goodness look at the Swooshes TM! Nike strikes again with its branding of the Minnesota Vikings. How many not so subliminal Nike trademarks do you see in this picture? The Viking uniforms sport the same torso swoosh as the Broncos but there’s more! Above the shoulders, behind the arms, and the refashioned horns.

Original Viking helmetIf the NFL is more restrictive than the NCAA about displaying manufacturers logos on uniforms, that’s not keeping Nike from tagging the athletes like so much graffiti.

On the old helmet, the ring around the horn was a semi circle, not a lateral crescent.

Nike swoosh the new uniform

Jake Plummer no longer of the Denver BroncosMy lover won’t talk to me if I refer to the garments of professional athletes as “outfits.” She doesn’t appreciate “costumes” either. Both terms fit to me, considering the theatricality of the performances and outcomes, involving rivalries that could not matter less.
 
The new Bronco look is distinguished by a curvy flank stripe, designed by the uniform’s manufacturer… NIKE! Bronco fans still argue it’s not product placement of the trademark Nike Swoosh. That’s a Bronco fan for you.

NFL rivals Adidas stripes versus Nike swooshI’ll admit when a Bronco is standing up, or is at rest, the orange swoosh forms just an elongated crescent. The real genius of this design is that when the athlete is poised to strike or is in motion, either end of the slash serves to form America’s beloved Just Do It check mark.

Tell me the photo at right doesn’t reflect the real competing titans of the NFL: Adidas versus Nike.