Ex-Nike execs pursue new projects

Gary Pitman developing shoes that grow with the child; Jill Stanton leads Old Navy’s attempt at sports retail.

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Gary Pitman, who spent 10 years at Nike, is developing shoes that grow with the child in an attempt to help children in developing countries.

Children risk cuts and infections due to exposure to parasites and bacteria when they have poorly-fitting shoes, or lack them altogether, Portland Business Journal writes.

A small Vancouver company, headed by an ex-Nike manager, worked with the nonprofit Because International to engineer a clever solution: shoes that grow. These sandals expand by five sizes, allowing kids to hang onto them as their feet grow. Gary Pitman, president and CEO of Proof of Concept, said it all started when he was contacted by Kenton Lee, a pastor and the charity’s executive director.

Lee had thought of the idea while we was working in Nairobi, Kenya with HIV/AIDS orphans and he saw numerous kids wearing shoes that were too small for their feet, according to World.Mic. Lee found his way to Pitman, who is semi-retired and works from home, to do prototyping for startup companies. He had a long career in the shoe trade. He spent 10 years at Nike Inc. in prototyping and brand concepts and managing a tooling and production operation in Southeast Asia. He followed that with a 12-year stint at Adidas.

Pitman used a 3D printer to create prototypes and he printed 100 pairs of shoes that grew in three places. Lee then ordered a total of 8,000 since.

Jill Stanton leads Old Navy’s attempt at sports retail

Old Navy has nabbed a former Nike executive to lead its Active brand.

Bloomberg News reports: 

Like its other offerings, Old Navy’s going for mass appeal with its performance items, instead of the exclusivity of Lululemon or the hard-core athletic appeal of Under Armour. With its “Built For Play” tagline, Active seeks to establish itself as a viable sub-brand under the Old Navy banner, an effort to clothe entire families when they’re out doing anything sporty. That’s why it sells its activewear to both men and women, carries petite, plus, and tall sizes, and even has polyester mesh shorts and zip-front hoodies for toddlers. And the prices are accessible—shoppers can find racerback tanks on sale for less than $10, yoga pants for $15, and sports bras marked down to $7.

“We’re about the families,” says Jill Stanton, executive vice president for product development and design at Old Navy. “I think we’ve got the broadest offering for the family [of] anybody else.” Charged with refining Old Navy’s various product lines, Stanton sees athletic clothing as an important part of the label’s future. Old Navy has grown into a discount mammoth since its first store opened in 1994, with more than 1,000 locations and $6.6 billion in global sales. And it’s been charging hard recently, with sales at stores open at least one year (and online orders) increasing 11 percent in the most recent quarter. Old Navy declined to disclose the size of its activewear business but said it recognized activewear as a growth opportunity.