Nike Has Had a Secret Department Working for It Since the '80s

Jessica Schiffer

When you hear “the cult of Nike,” your first instinct is probably that said cult refers to the many, many devoted customers the sportswear brand has racked up over the years. But a new article on Sole Collector reveals that there is actually an official Nike cult, and it’s been working undercover for the brand since 1981. Talk about an interesting nugget of fashion history! Heres how the article’s author tells it:

“There’s a secret group of Nike devotees, product obsessives, who roam around proselytizing on behalf of the Swoosh. They are one of the oldest Nike outreach squads. They help sell the idea of Nike, even if they don’t really have anything to sell. They are the EKINs (that's 'Nike' spelled backwards).”

Mind. Blown. Apparently the brand’s co-founder Phil Knight initiated the program in the 80s to ensure that “the passion for [the] product that Nike’s old guard had would be passed on to future generations.” It’s a pretty brilliant move, even if a sneaky one—sneakerheads may have known about it for years, but it’s safe to say that most Nike customers have been kept in the dark.

So, are these mysterious Nike preachers still spreading the good word today? Yep—and there’s even an alumni association, which you can probably assume is 10 times more fun than that of your college alma mater. Sole Collector got further details on what this crew does from a former EKIN named Matt Fine:

“Basically you are a product expert and you’re tasked with understanding all the new technologies—understanding who’s wearing it, how it’s being marketed, how it’s being positioned. … There’s actually a position [known as] chief storyteller. … [Nike] wants to impress upon you that storytelling is everything to the brand. That’s how they get you to buy in.”

In other words, they’re making sure the magic of Nike is kept alive at full force, regardless of where the shoes are being sold (e.g., department stores, Foot Locker, etc.). “Everyone tells you that [this] job will be the best job you’ll ever have [and] for the most part that’s true,” Fine confirms. The best part? Most of them have Swoosh tattoos to prove it.

Read the full article at Sole Collector, and let us know what you think about this funky news in the comments!

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