With the Women’s World Cup kicking off last Saturday and team USA taking home their first win on Monday, #WWC fever has officially begun. In a progressive but perhaps overdue move, Nike is now making US Women’s National Team (USWNT) jerseys in men’s sizes so anyone can don a Wambach, Rapinoe, or Morgan jersey.
In past years USWNT jerseys (which include two stars above the insignia for each of the team’s World Cup victories) were available in only women’s and youth sizes, while men’s jerseys (which remain star-less) were available to all. Clearly this was a double standard that needed some resolving.
Nike now boasts that its forward-thinking, no longer gender exclusive kits will “allow all Americans to proudly display their support for the women’s team.” So what was Nike’s reasoning for not making this move years ago? They were afraid the stars included on the women’s jerseys would cause confusion if worn by men. The brand claimed to be worried people would wrongfully attribute the US Women’s National Team’s past success with that of the men’s team. But, while this excuse was pitiful, Nike’s headway since the last Women’s World Cup has been commendable.
I’d argue that Nike’s newly broadened product offering is strategic, progressive, and refreshing to say the least. It is also—and thankfully– illustrative of the shift many brands, which formerly underserved women’s sportswear needs, are beginning to take to give women more equal consideration. So, even though Nike may not necessarily reap massive profits from their men’s-sized women’s jerseys, the kits will likely buy Nike some good will among female consumers, as it has with me.
So men, women, and children alike, grab your vuvuzelas, sport your favorite gender-inclusive USWNT jersey, and help cheer our second-seeded leading ladies on toward a third World Cup victory. They’ll need all the support they can get as they compete in the group of death in the coming weeks (and hopefully beyond!).