DIGs unearth new Nike line

Nike Sport Color Block Polo

It’s amazing what a little digging will uncover.

When Nike Golf set out to create its next collection of apparel and footwear, it mimicked archaeologists at an excavation unearthing tell-tale clues. In Nike’s case, it meant probing the closets of golfers’ homes around the globe, including those in the U.S., Japan and the United Kingdom. Nike calls its research technique DIG, which stands for Discover, Ideate and Go.

“Ideation is a Nike word,” said Doug Reed, product director for Nike apparel. “It’s all about acting on an insight that you wouldn’t get by just going to retail or going to a tournament.

“Learning about what golfers buy, why they buy it and why they hang on to it is a very telling exercise. The closet doesn’t lie.”

It led to the debut of the Sport Collection, the brand’s most casual apparel line yet, and shoes such as the Dunk NG – the classic 1985 Swoosh hoop shoe retrofitted for the fairways. Based on research indicating that many golfers, regardless of age or ability, want different attire to suit different occasions, Nike developed its new line that’s all about being more relaxed.

“There’s a big difference between what I want to look like if we’re playing for business or competing for the club championship versus if we’re just going out for nine (holes) and a couple of beers,” Reed said. “They’re not different audiences. It’s the same guy.”

The Dunk NG underscores fun and self-expression, too. Nike staff member Anthony Kim will wear it in tournaments in 2012.

Is Nike worried about offending traditionalists with such offerings? Not really.

“I give consumers credit that they recognize we’re all about (performance products),” said Lee Walker, Nike’s footwear product director. “As long as we deliver on that end, I think we can take some license when it comes to the aesthetics and have some fun.”

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