For its 50th anniversary this year, Nike could have done a lot of things. It could have done what many fashion brands do and had a series of enormous parties in multiple capitals around the world with special guests like LeBron James and Billie Eilish and Naomi Osaka and Travis Scott, all of whom work with the brand. It could have issued a limited-edition coffee-table tome full of glossy photos of sneakers treated like art. It could have created “50 and Fabulous” merch (or something).
But Nike has done none of that. In fact, the only sort-of anniversary thing it has done thus far is roll out the old Spike Lee character Mars Blackmon, the better to illustrate a new “anthem” called “Seen It All,” and suggest that, actually, we haven’t. Which may be something of the truth — if there’s one thing you learn in both sports and fashion, it’s that there is always someone coming up behind you — and also something of a humble brag.
Because after half a century there is no escaping the fact that, if Goldman Sachs was once described as the “vampire squid” on the face of humanity, Nike has become part of the root system that underlies the culture. And not just sneaker culture.