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“Nike and the Swoosh name and stripe are trademarks and your guarantee of quality,” reads the back of plenty of tongue tags on sneakers from Nike, however, they may have to reevaluate that statement. No, we’re not talking about glaring QC issues like scuffed materials, glue stains, or guidelines still visible on your $200-plus sneaker. We’re talking about the recent uptick in moldy sneakers customers have received.
Most notoriously affecting the recent release of the Air Jordan 1 High OG “Lost & Found,” other sneakers including the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low “Phantom” and A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 4 SP “Violet Ore” have been documented with mold - all of which come directly from Nike. Now, this isn’t a brand new issue for The Swoosh or retailers in general as poor management of inventory can lead to mold issues and has been seen multiple times in the past even if it wasn’t as documented as it is today. Scrolling through social media you’ll find dozens of posts regarding the issue.
Speculating on what could be causing this, we’re all well aware of the logistics nightmare that has hit industries across the globe in the last few years which led to inventory being delayed for months. Considering most sneakers are produced many months before they’re intended to release, have to be shipped from overseas, arrive at the port, hit warehouses, and then distributed to retailers/customers, the long wait times caused by delays and the recent uptick Nike has had with inventory are likely the main culprit. Why this was affecting the “Lost & Found” release so much may be due to the cracked leather used on the collar of the sneaker, making this portion much more porous and allowing moisture to seep into the sneaker - a major element in the growth of mold.
One user online who goes by the name TheJuice4K received a moldy pair of the AJ 1 High “Lost & Found” in November, shared photos with us of the sneaker he received (which can be viewed above), and told us about his experience. Upon receiving the sneakers, Juice was “shocked and kind of grossed out,” continuing, “I was alarmed at the amount of mold covering the collars and sockliner.” As with many other customers, once he reached out to Nike’s customer service they offered him a full refund and allowed him to keep the sneakers. In his case, he cleaned the mold off the sneakers and has since not seen any return (though this doesn’t necessarily mean that cleaning the mold off a sneaker will completely free it from spores as it MAY grow back in the future). Based on Nike’s response to his situation and others, Juice is still keeping releases from Nike on his radar although he “hope[s] they learn from the mistakes they made with these for future releases.”
In a statement to Complex from back in November, a Nike spokesperson stated “We are aware of the issue and are working to address it to improve future experiences."
As previously mentioned, this isn’t the first nor the last time we will see mold-covered sneakers make their way to consumers as the amount of product Nike handles on a yearly basis is so large some pairs will fall by the wayside in terms of QC. Hopefully, as inventory levels decrease over at The Swoosh we see this issue become less prevalent than it became over the last few months. For more updates on the latest happenings in the sneaker and streetwear world, keep it locked to our Twitter and the Sole Retriever mobile app.