Images of an upcoming Air Force 1 sneaker celebrating Nike’s namesake goddess left Twitter users in disbelief this week.
Sites like Hypebeast and Sneaker News first posted photos of the upcoming Nike Air Force 1 Low “Goddess of Victory” on Sunday and Monday. The images showed a pair of all-white shoes with wing-like tongues, an embroidered palm branch and, on the left rear heel, “NIKE” written in Greek.
The only problem: Nike misspelled its own name. Eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted the typo on Tuesday.
“Breaking: @Nike to celebrate and honor its namesake, the Greek Goddess of Victory Νίκη, by completely erasing her name and the entire Greek language,” wrote one user who has since racked up around 9,600 likes.
According to those on Twitter, Nike’s spelling, “ΠΙΚΣ”, includes two errors: replacing the “N” with the Greek letter for “P” and replacing the “E” with the Greek letter for “S”. According to users, the correct uppercase forms would be “N” and “H” respectively. Given these errors, Nike’s shoes appear to read “PIKS” for those familiar with the Greek language. The correct all caps spelling would be “NIKH”.
“Oh I can’t contain it,” another Twitter user wrote. “These are driving me so crazy. I know it doesn’t matter only an idiot would wear shoes that say “piks” in greek letters and think it says Nike and I shouldn’t care what shoes idiots wear but GOD IT ME DRIVES SO CRAZY. THERE ARE 11 MILLION GREEKS. ASK FOR ONE.
The Nike Air Force 1 Low “Goddess of Victory” also includes a dictionary entry for the word “Nike” on the right insole. The chart includes an “Ancient Greek” spelling of the word in standard sentence case that accurately uses the language’s uppercase “N” and lowercase “η”. This time, however, the brand seems to have gotten the “k” wrong, using what appears to be a lowercase “χ” rather than the Greek “κ”.
Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although many of the related tweets simply mocked Nike for their mistake, some demand the brand take action. A Change.org petition calling on Nike to retract and recall the Air Force 1 “Goddess of Victory” sneakers, for example, has received more than 325 signatures so far.
Angie Xidias, creator of the petition and owner of the One Bean Marketing brand and marketing firm, said her son wears Nike and is a fan of the brand. When he first showed her the misspelling on the “Goddess of Victory” sneakers, she could hardly believe her eyes.
“At first I told him it couldn’t be possible, it had to be a meme and told him to check the source,” Xidias told The Sourcing Journal on Friday. “After seeing it was actually real, I couldn’t believe it.”
With his son upset over the mistake, Xidias wanted to show him there was something they could do. “Nike tells us all the time… #justdoit,” she said. Back home, they got to work on the petition.
“The purpose of the petition is to raise awareness for the preservation of Greek culture and its history,” Xidias said. “I studied classical civilization and Hellenic studies at [New York University]. If I don’t speak up and teach my children to stand up for what is right, then who will? Getting it right is important, Nike has a social responsibility to get it right.
Even though she asks Nike to recall the shoe, Xidias still says she “really loves” the brand and “its uplifting messaging, their support for social justice issues, and the fact that their brand is built on the Greek goddess NIKH.” . As a Greek-American, she said she was proud of it: “I just want them to do it right.”
“Nike misused the Greek alphabet on the back of the sneakers by mis-spelling the Greek goddess NIKH (NIKE),” reads Xidias’ petition. “Currently the sneakers are called PIKS and not NIKE – this is cultural appropriation. We ask Nike to preserve and respect Greek culture and history by accurately using the Greek alphabet when writing and of the reference to the goddess NIKE.
Nike has found itself at the center of various backlash on social media in recent months. Last week, Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, took to Instagram to demand answers after images emerged of a Kobe sneaker she said she didn’t approve of. Last month, a video criticizing the brand for the exclusivity of its Go FlyEase adaptive sneaker received millions of views and another video offering viewers a tour of world headquarters prompted Instagram users to request to see the ” 3rd world slaves” who they believe produce Nike merchandise.
The Air Force 1 Low “Goddess of Victory” isn’t even the only time Nike has recently found itself in trouble over an Air Force 1 release. In early April, as the company fought its battle legal action against MSCHF for its “Satan shoes”, the USPS has called out Nike for misappropriating its intellectual property for the upcoming Air Force 1 USPS. The postal agency promised to “take all measures it deems necessary to protect its valuable intellectual property rights”.
The two groups eventually resolved their differences. In early May, the USPS released a new statement revealing that it had reached an agreement with Nike that the sneakers would continue to be inspired by the postal agency, but they would also be officially authorized by the USPS.