Nike Polos and Defects Leading to Recalls and Rework

Posted on September 4, 2013 | in Defects, Football, Inventory, Lean Wastes, Manufacturing, Overprocessing, Quality, Sponsorships, Sports, Transportation | by
nick saban alabama frank beamer virginia tech

The swoosh is hardly visible on television, so says Nike. (Photo from

I spend more words beating up on jersey, polo, and t-shirt manufacturers in my posts (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). Truth be told, they are organizations ripe with opportunities for improvement mainly because they see only the hard dollar savings from buying in mass quantities overseas and boating their merchandise over.

They fail to see the costs of inventory holdings, stockouts, lack of flexibility in meeting customer demands, overproduction of items that don’t sell (thereby creating more inventory holding), inflexibility in fixing defects, and so on.

But now we have a new reason for headscratching regarding apparel manufacturers – throwing some overprocessing into the ring through recalls of “defective” polo shirts. From a source to Uni Watch:

On Monday afternoon, we received a phone call from our Nike rep, demanding that we send back every gameday polo and pullover as soon as possible. Puzzled, we held off on sending them back until we received a more concrete explanation.

As it turns out, Nike applied their swooshes to the sleeves of their polos and pullovers, not the chest, meaning they were not visible during broadcasts.

Look at all the inefficiencies introduced to the process because the polos weren’t made right the first time. Calls had to be made to the customer schools. The schools take the time to collect all the polos and pullovers and send them back to Nike. Nike must clean them and apply the chest swoosh. Nike then sends the polos and pullovers back.

According to the picture, the swoosh can be seen fine on the sleeve but the necessity of having the swoosh on the chest? Again, from Uni Watch:

There’s something delicious about the Swooshkateers being too incompetent to get their own branding right, of course. But that obscures the larger issue, which is this: Does it really matter whether the logo is on Saban’s sleeve or chest?


The whole thing smacks of typical Nikean hubris.

Perhaps the quality issue could have been caught earlier had the apparel been manufactured stateside and gone through adequate quality checks? And did Nike make the specification that the polos and pullovers were to have a chest swoosh and it simply wasn’t done, or was it that a higher-up saw no chest swoosh and decided they wanted one to be there?

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