Tag Archives: Michigan State University

Why American Designers Simply Cannot Get It Right

It happened to me again the other day and my frustration continues to grow.

Imagine a man who innocently walks in a sporting goods store, or perhaps even in a department store, with the sole intention of replacing his running suit which he has worn to shreds, and his wife threatens to throw out when he is not looking.

It is a given that male pride tells him he can find the exact running suit he needs to fit his particular needs without his wife accompanying him.

He edges up to a row of running suits and first looks at material and color. He needs to know if he wants lining in his running suit for colder winter weather or something lighter for hot summer weather.

Color is also important. Being a Michigan State University graduate I understand that a green and white running suit could make an important statement about me as opposed to a maize and blue number that screams the University of Michigan.

One must also be careful about the color green. A light green simply will not do. A British racing green is perfect. The latter is almost impossible to find so usually I settle for a blue and white, two-tone blue or black running suit.

If I were an amateur and not a lifelong athlete then I would purchase the suit and be on my way. Since I competed for Michigan State and continue to be not only a masters (40 and over) but a seniors (50 and over) runner, there is one more critical test to make before the purchase.

Any running suit I buy must have pockets with zippers in the jacket, front pockets with zippers and a back pocket with a zipper in the pants. The operative word here is zippers in case you missed the point. Some suits have fewer pockets and one pocket with Velcro as an afterthought.

When I find another running suit with the exact combination of zippers I want, it will be a miracle similar to Michigan State winning another national championship in football. The probability of this happening in my lifetime is close to zero.

People who design running suits today could not possibly be athletes or people who are interested in safeguarding their valuables. Pockets without zippers allow wallets, money and keys to fly out when running or even sitting in a chair.

What exactly is wrong with designers that they do not create what any sane, athletic man wants and used to get in a running suit? Are the designers all without half a brain in their head, or do they not care enough to make what the consumer needs?

I believe that what has happened in the design industry is that the people who design have been told to cater to a younger buyer who is interested in fashion and not utility. We have millions of kids and young adults running around the country today who want to look athletic and cool but are not athletic or cool.

They are the pawns of the fashion industry who are easily led to slaughter by designers with no other intent than putting out a new fashionable fall color to ring the cash register.

The biggest culprit just might be Nike, you know, the company that does not need to use its name because it has the carefully marketed and branded swoosh to announce its presence.

When I competed at Michigan State, Nike was not even a thought in Phil Knight’s head. It was some years after I graduated that Nike was born and rose to prominence as a store for athletes, especially runners.

Steve Prefontaine was Nike’s only spokesman and symbol. Pre was America’s greatest middle distance runner in his prime and is American’s greatest running legend.

I cannot tell you how saddened I was when I went to Nike’s huge store in Seattle and found only a few pair of actual running shoes, all of the rest were fashion shoes for kids to show off.

Once Nike became serious about manufacturing running apparel things have really gone downhill. I was in Macy’s yesterday looking at Nike running suits and found no zippers or Velcro on any pockets. Everything was made in Thailand and accompanied by an expensive price tag. Good grief!

Nike might as well advertise itself as the fashion wear leader since athletes and runners have been pushed aside to make room for more sales and profits. You would think that some enterprising person would figure out the void and fill it with the product I want and need.

I am disgusted with current running suits and the designers who design them.

I am even more disgusted with Nike and Phil Knight. He competed for the University of Oregon as a runner. He has made millions and apparently donated millions to the Ducks’ athletic program but cannot now even make running suits for runners that have a single zipper to protect valuables.