Ever since Portland, Oregon-based Savier first appeared on the ever-so-competitive skate-shoe market two years ago, much attention has been given to its somewhat ambiguous relationship with nearby Beaverton-based sneaker conglomerate Nike Inc.
National newspapers, including USA Today, have run articles about the sneaker industry and discussed the Savier and Nike relationship, which perhaps only stirred up more confusion about where exactly Savier stands in the scheme of skate shoes.
What they haven’t realized or perhaps even considered is how entirely independent Savier actually is from Nike-their relationship is limited to simply sharing Nike’s research and manufacturing facilities. Every other aspect of the company is separate from Nike.
The creative and marketing direction at Savier is entirely run and managed from its own office, as is the choice of materials, selection of staff, and overall setup and structure of the company. “Every aspect of Savier is run outside of Nike-there’s really no control or guidance from Nike other than their support,” says Mark McGarry, marketing/media and team manager at Savier.
SKATE Biz recently caught up with Savier’s President Paul Fidrych to chat about Savier, it’s manufacturing background, and how Nike ties into the big picture.
Like most other skate-shoe companies, Savier’s products-both bags and footwear-are manufactured in China, although its main research and development facility is in Taiwan. “While most shoes are made in Korea, the parts are made in China,” explains Fidrych.
Asked about the standards of Savier’s manufacturing, Fidrych explains why Savier chose to manufacture in Nike’s facility: “The company’s (Nike’s) labor practices are exceptional,” he says. “The standards that Nike put into the factory are much better than what’s out there, whether it be child labor or wages or environmental losses. The facilities that I’ve seen over there are amazing. It’s a company choice-nobody’s forcing us.”
Fidrych says Nike’s involvement in Savier is simple: “The only thing is that we have an agreement with airbag technology. When it comes down to materials, it’s (Savier) all done on our own.”