I trekked down to the Core77 Portland function and was lucky enough to have our partner in crime (Yo) give me a tour of the Nike Campus the following day.

You can read more about it on my blog:

The short story is that any poor image I might have had of Nike is completely and utterly washed away. Its a world class company with a unique and inspiring campus. The work environment is second to none.

Yo, you’re one lucky dood to be working in such a cool place. Thanks, again, for the tour.

no problem, anytime man.

Completely agree, ip_wirelessly. I did some work for Nike back in the late '90s and got to spend quite a bit of time on campus. It’s a beautiful facility. More than that, everyone I worked with at Nike was fantastic. Good people, talented designers, the works. I’ve been a dedicated Nike consumer ever since.


Ya, wetlands. Basically the campus is dropped in and around a lake and forest. I suppose “wetlands” is a bit of a misnomer considering living in the Northwest everything is wet. But the term “wetlands” was right from Yo’s mouth. Maybe he can explain better than me.

that’s awesome. you should’ve taken pics. i live in portland but never even been inside the complex. how big is that manmade lake?

I don’t believe the lake is manmade…but Yo could answer that better than me. I did take a few pics…but Nike asks that you don’t post any on the net and I am respecting that request.

What about the working conditions overseas? How does nike stack up against competitors with working conditions and wages?

I would imagine that, like most companies, they contract their work out to reputable companies that are overseas and utilize the regionalized wage structure.

Damn…don’t you hate it when the big corporation isn’t the evil beast you want it to be?

Good enough for me…I’ve been thinking about picking up a pair of those Jordan Selects (nice work by the way). Now I don’t have to worry that they were made by a 9 year old.

cool, glad you like them>> the Select is built in an awesome foactroy, I visited it last year.

cool stuff. the research and design center for herman miller has that same effect. it’s typically called the design yard, it has a meadow-y farm feel on the exterior. inside, the place is a creative haven with lots of great light, architecture, and terrific candid photos of their designers. lot sof private work by ray and charles eames, etc. they certainly celebrate their design history like no ither company i’ve worked for since. i worked there for two years. never worked in a more creative, yet professional setting either.

I’d be pretty sure that Nike and most major sports brands wouldnt use any sketchy labor practices. I’ve been to over 20 different mid/high shoe factories and can honestyl say the conditions in all are very good. Certainly no 9 year olds (probably wouldnt be very skilled anyhow), and likely as good or in some cases better than factories and tooling shops in north america.

Im not sure where the misconception in public perception comes from about footwear factories in asia using child labor and unsavory working conditions comes from. If you consider that a good shoe requires good, skilled workers, it doesnt even make sense that a reputable company would have bad working conditions or uses cheaper labor. Labor in a shoe is typically less than 10% of the total FOB cost, so saving a few pennys paying workers less doesnt add up.

just my 0.02 worth on the subject :slight_smile:


I agree that it doesn’t make sense, and I do believe Yo that nike’s factories aren’t terrible places to work. However, the media over the years has made a lot of people believe otherwise. Check this out:

“This is the case for workers in the global sportswear industry. Workers producing for companies like Nike, FILA, adidas, Puma, New Balance and Asics commonly face low wages, long hours, verbal abuse, dangerous working conditions, denial of trade union rights and high levels of sexual harassment (80 per cent of sportswear workers are women). Oxfam Australia is part of a global campaign to persuade sports brands to respect workers’ rights.”

This is a quote from a group called NikeWatch. I guess it’s just a PR problem at this point.

The misconception (as I see it ) comes from :

Mocassin handstitching in Portugal - used to be given to homeworkers who worked away from the factory. It was piece work - what used to happen was people would give a few bits to thier kids to stitch for a bit of pocket money. It is pretty impossible to control what piece workers do with the product once it leaves the factory.

The other problem was with kids handstitching soccer balls in India. It’s actually worse to stop them doing it as some kids have entire families to support by doing it. The manufacturer that had problems with it ended up having to set schools up to educate the kids but still allowed them to stitch the balls. Difficult situation, but when poverty is so bad, it’s often worse to stop kids from working.

But no, kids do not work in Chinese factories, but if you think that bad practice does not go on in these factories (and I’m talking about factories that make Nike - I’ve used them too), then you are living in a fantasy world.

Yes sneaker factories are pretty good now and conditions and salaries are a lot better than they used to be but unionisation is still not allowed and footwear factories have A LONG way to go before they reach the standards that the electronics factories have.

I’ve had experience of factory auditing, I’ve seen the books cooked, I’ve seen forced overtime in a sample room (making a well known brand), ridiculous working hours, a worker with an awful injury from a skiving machine that didn’t have a guard on it, refused leave to visit a hospital for stitches and given no support to afford the bus fare there - to think that this doesn’t still go on is a bit naive.

I have seen more than a couple dozen factories and worked with over a couple dozen more, and most of the biggest and well known. I have also seen some of the smaller and weird looking ones. It would be my take that it’s the ones we don’t see that are the sketchy. Even a company in need of reinventing like Airwalk for example, uses a modest and well known factory (no one really wants to bad PR hype).

The most ironic thing that I noticed is the Chinese AC, you know- the HUGE fans that sit in front of the windows! I found it weird that nearly every opened window had a fan in it, and every fan was pointing towards the people. (as if there were no need to let the “funny” air inside out)

My take anyway…

I’m out!

I saw a presentation by one of the corporate interior architects at Herman Miller at Office PDX a few months back. I can’t remember his name off the top of my head, but the design yard looked amazing.