Nike is the largest sneaker manufacturer in the world. They design, manufacture, and sell iconic, casual, high-tech, and trendy shoes for all sorts of people around the globe. They have been a steady winner for generations and are the proud endorsers of some of the most ground-breaking athletes of all time. Among them, you can find Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods, and many, many others.
Although they are crushing it in the shoe world, they face the same issue their competition does: shoe size and fit. Read on and find out if Nike shoes are true to size, their characteristics, and why they chose innovation as a way out of that problem.
Feet are like fingerprints
Although the biggest brands in the world try their best to standardize the measures in their shoes, feet are like fingerprints; there aren ́t two exactly equal. For example, you might very well have a size on your left foot and another size on your right foot.
That being said, measurement systems helped standardize shoe sizes throughout time. We are going to go through them in some lines. But what about Nike shoes, are Nike shoes true to size? Well, according to most customers, Nike shoes fit tend to be a tad smaller per size than the competition (Reebok, Adidas), and have a bigger arch. Depending on your foot type, that can be beneficial or not for you; those with a more pronounced arch seem to find Nike shoes the perfect fit.
Similarly, some people have found them not only to be smaller in length but also in width and decide to buy a size or half a size extra to make up for it. Also, most Nike customers agree that Nike shoes need to be “broken in”. This means that once they start wearing them; they stretch to become more comfortable.
Still, according to the company, Nike is pursuing innovation to make the perfect fit for every customer ́s feet. Read on and you ́ll find out about it in a few paragraphs.
Nike’s Measuring charts
Nike has published several measuring charts to make their customers find the right fit for their shoes. You can check this website for detailed instructions on how to measure your feet for the shoes you want to buy from them.
Wait! is the chart enough to choose the perfect fit for your feet? Let ́s find out!
Are Nike’s Measuring charts accurate?
Charts measure the length of your feet, but they fail to measure the other aspects of your feet that have a dramatic impact on the outcome. For example, customers who have a higher arch or a flatter arch, or even a wider foot can ́t find in Nike ́s chart a specific measurement for their feet. Moreover, not all of us have the same toe length or shape. It is not the same to be a teenager with a perfect set of toes as a middle-aged person with a Tailor ́s Bunion on either side of your foot.
Also, charts do not address toe-length or size. For example, you can have Egyptian, Roman, or Greek foot types (you can check them here) which will change the way that your shoes will fit with your toes. If they will feel crammed or loose. Moreover, the weather will determine the thickness of your socks and that will also affect the fit of the shoes.
Charts are accurate in determining the length of your feet, but not so accurate when it comes to what kind or size of shoe will perfectly fit them.
Is Fit a Problem for Nike?
Indeed, according to Nike, their customer care center receives up to half a million calls a year regarding shoe size and fit. For a company with the volume of sales Nike has, it is not a major issue, but modern corporations tend to grow by turning a common problem into a competitive advantage. Michael Martin, global head of digital products for Nike stated that regardless of how good the shoe is if the fit is not perfect, you can ́t perform at your maximum with it. In the same line, he also stated that perfecting the fit of their shoes can turn out to be the biggest transformation opportunity for them.
Having signed endorsement agreements with top-performing athletes like LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo for the sum of a billion dollars each, performance is not a minor indicator for the brand. For those who practice any kind of sports, the comfort your gear offers you plays a major role in your performance levels. Fit is not a problem for Nike but can turn out to be a competitive advantage soon.
Can you hurt yourself with the wrong-sized shoe?
Besides discomfort and not being able to perform at your peak level, there are several other health problems derived from using a wrong-sized shoe. To begin with, a recent study shows that only 28 to 37% of people are wearing the right-sized shoes for their feet. The consequences of this unpleasant footwear experience range from calluses to neuropathy. Indeed, there are so many nervous terminals in our feet that constricting them for long periods can have disastrous consequences.
The answer to the above question is yes, wearing the wrong-sized shoe can hurt you.
The measuring system comes from medieval times
What are we using to measure our shoes? Where do charts and systems come from? Well, according to researchers in the matter, our current system can be traced back to the 1330s. This information can be considered an urban legend, but it is said that the reigning King of England wanted a new pair of boots in 1334. He had a pair made but they didn ́t fit him properly so out of anger, he created a measuring system using barleycorn.
He used three barleycorns to determine an inch and then measured his foot being 21 barleycorns long; hence, size 7 was born.
The 1900s innovation
Fast forward to the year 1925 in which the Brannock Device was presented to the world. It was the invention of Charles Brannock himself. This inventor came to realize that the barleycorn method could only measure the length of the foot but not the width and that it was a problem for many people.
If you ́ve ever seen a Brannock Device, it is closer to an old medical apparatus than a cool fashion tool. It is
a flat metal tray in which you set foot to get the measurement for your length as well as your width. Still, there is some information missing regarding the arch, the toe spreading, and the toe length. Moreover, how to apply a particular measurement like that to an industrialized manufacturing process? The answer is in the next paragraph.
(If you ́ve never seen a Brannock Device in action and want to, you can check this video).
The future is here, Nike has an app for it
Because of all the discussed above, Nike bought a cutting-edge technology company in 2018 for an undisclosed amount of money. The company is called Vertex and they started working together with Nike in designing an app to solve the problem.
Almost two years later, the joined effort resulted in Nike Fit, an app that can measure your feet using a smartphone and then recommend you exactly what size shoe you need in any specific Nike model. Indeed, Nike started testing the app in four markets: Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle, and California with outstanding results. According to Martin, the conversion rate in stores was higher; customers were more likely to leave with a Nike bag in their hands. Also, they were more prone to come back to the same store and get another pair. As if this was not enough, another derived positive outcome was that those store workers spent a reduced amount of time off the selling floor going to look for different sizes in storage rooms for customers to try.
How does Nike Fit work?
Using digital morphology scanning, the app selects 13 points in your feet and scans all variables. While the antiquated measuring system only took width and length, with Nike Fit, you can make a perfect 3-d model of your foot and map it. All of this sounds very complicated, but the only thing the app requests from users is to stand next to a wall barefoot or wearing their favorite socks. The process of mapping takes mere seconds and, once it ́s over, the results are stored in the app for future purchases.
When shopping with the app, using this measuring system is optional. If you choose to go for it, and if you are a NikePlus member, your measurement will be stored. Next time you want to buy shoes using the same app, you will no longer see different size options, but the exact size that is for you on that specific model. The company warns that while browsing, you might come across different sizes for different models because of the shape of your fit and the shape of the shoe itself.
Also, if you want to buy shoes, say for your children, nephews, or any other person than yourself, you can do it with a guest mode. This is especially handy when purchases are directed to the little ones whose feet are always a much more complicated choice.
Financial decisions with the customer in mind
Nike is not, of course, only thinking about the benefit for their customers, but also on increasing their profit. Let ́s take a look at some of the positive company outcomes since Fit was introduced to the market.
· Understand stocking better – Up until now, there was no tool to measure exactly what sizes were the most popular in different regions of the planet. For example, do people in South East Asia wear more size 7, 8, or
9 shoes? Since it is so common, especially in times of e-commerce and pandemic, to order more than one pair and just send back what doesn ́t fit you for free, the company had no exact numbers to calculate stock in different sizes per region. With the introduction of Fit, it is possible to calculate exact percentages for stocking and manufacturing.
· Reducing customer service traffic – Nike was receiving half a million calls a year to its customer service because of matters related to fit and size. With Nike Fit the company is expecting to reduce that number drastically and redirect those resources.
· Reduce returns – Since the app can be used inside a store or anywhere else on the planet, they are expecting to reduce the number of shoes being sent back because of size and fit issues.
· Increase direct purchases – Nike sells through direct channels and also through third-party-owned businesses. The intermediary costs the company money that comes straight from the product revenue. Nike Fit can change that by allowing customers to make purchases straight from the app. Nike is expecting to grow its subscribers from 150 million to twice as much with the introduction of Nike Fit as a buying tool. This way, their revenue would skyrocket because purchases would be direct with no commission given to third parties.
What does the future look like for Nike?
The company, according to recent statements from Heidi O’Neill, the president of Nike Direct, is focused on giving the consumer a different experience than any other brand in the world. Along the same line, Heidi stated that consumers look for a bond with a brand rather than a transaction, and with that goal in mind, Nike is planning on taking the lead duplicating their number of subscribers.
In the same interview, Heidi O ́Neill said that she can picture that in the future, whenever a consumer goes to buy a pair of shoes, they will not have a size, but much rather a name on the box, because they would buy a pair designed and manufactured specifically for them.
What about other big brands?
Nike is the number one brand in the United States, far from the second contestant. They not only rule in their own country but the entire world. German giants Adidas are the biggest competitors. Also, brands like Puma, Under Armour, and others divide the rest of the market.
Are they true to their size? Let ́s find out!
This German brand created in 1929 is Nike ́s biggest competition in many different areas. Adidas Originals cover every day wearing (endorsed by artists like Beyoncé and Kanye West). Some of the biggest football superstars in the world are also endorsers (Lionel Messi, for example). Finally, they also design and manufacture shoes for every sport you can think of. You probably know and have owned a pair or two by the brand with the three stripes.
Are Adidas true to size?
According to most users, except for a few models we will highlight in a bit, they are true to size. One thing to bear in mind if you live in the US is the conversion with the metric system since in Europe, more specifically in Germany, they use centimeters instead of inches. You can check the adult chart in both metric
systems here and the infant chart here.
The models most people find trouble with are:
· Adidas Ultraboost – These shoes were specifically designed by Adidas for runners, and according to most users, they feel very tight around the arch. This is because the design of the shoe is based on comfort and performance. Most customers advise buying half a size bigger when you purchase Adidas Ultraboost. You can check this video for a demonstration of this difference.
· Adidas Gazelle – This all-time classic is one of the best selling shoes in the history of the company. It has remained in production uninterruptedly since 1966. The thing about the Gazelle fit is that it “hugs” your ankle from behind and has a slightly shorter space for your toes. You might want to also try out half a size more than what you usually wear.
Believe it or not, the founders of Adidas and Puma are brothers and while Adidas is the second-largest sneaker manufacturer in the world, Puma comes third. According to the brand ́s story, it was born in 1948 after Rudolf Dassler and Adolf “Adi” Dassler broke up their commercial relationship. Adi went on to create Adidas (coming from Adi Dassler) and Rudolf went on to create Puma. Both companies’ headquarters are in the same German city.
They design and manufacture sports shoes as well as casual wear sneakers, and have sponsored some of the most legendary sportspeople of all time including Usain Bolt, Diego Maradona, Michael Schumacher, and many others. Currently, they sponsor stars the size of Griezmann, Neymar, the Mercedes and Ferrari racing teams, and many more.
Are Puma shoes true to size?
According to most users, Puma shoes are smaller than Adidas and closer to the fit of Nikes. This is to say, that if you are size 9 in Adidas, you ́re probably 9 ? in Nikes and Pumas. Of course, if you are used to wearing Adidas, you ́ll feel them a little too tight; those used to wearing Nikes will feel at home with them.
Also, besides the length of the shoe, Pumas are known for being a bit narrower even than Nike. If you consider you have wide feet, you might want to go up a full size instead of half a size.
For a full chart for men, women, and children, you can check this website.
Under Armour is another US-based brand that competes for a spot with the greatest. Created only 24 years ago from a basement in Washington D.C. the company now employs close to 16,000 people around the world and endorses teams, nations, and influential personalities like Dwayne Johnson (AKA “The Rock”) and A$AP Rocky, among many others.
Although the company focuses on microfiber, sweat-free apparel, their recent development of shoes grew exponentially. They are still very far away from the top of the chart. Nike ́s yearly revenue was about 25 billion dollars in 2019 while Under Armour ́s was about 1.1 billion dollars. For a company that is only 24 years old and that doesn ́t specifically do shoe design and manufacture, it still is a rocket climb.
Are Under Armour shoes true to size?
Under Armour shoes have a very similar fit to Nike shoes according to most consumers. Indeed, if you are a
9 in Nike (and Puma for that matter) you can confidently get you a pair of 9 Under Armour shoes as well. On the other hand, if you are used to wearing Adidas, you might consider going up half or full size.
Finally, some of the shoes offered by Under Armour feature a high-tech mix of materials that have been said to shrink with washing machines. You can check this video for the testimony of a user who went through exactly that.
You can check a full Under Armour size chart on this site.
Nike is the world ́s largest sneaker manufacturer and also the world ́s leading company in sales. They are also the leaders in cutting-edge technology improvements to solve a problem many users have had for decades, which is sneakers being true to fit. With the addition of Nike Fit to their online store, they could revolutionize the world of sneakers.
If you are an Adidas person, you should think that the fit of Nikes is smaller and act upon it asking for half or full size bigger. On the other hand, if you are used to wearing Pumas, or Under Armour sneakers, the fit will be consistent from one brand to another.
Purchasing the sneakers that appeal to you is a beautiful sensation. Moreover, wearing them after that breaking in point is close to feeling right at home. Don ́t let the wrong size ruin that experience and wear your new Nike investment proudly and comfortably.
Happy sneaker buying!