|News & Events|
Chango: Nike not welcome in Toronto's Kensington Market
When Nike moved into Toronto's Kensington Market, a vibrant neighbourhood of alternative youth culture, they should have known they would have a fight on their hands. Shortly after the Nike "Presto showroom" opened, local graffiti artists let Nike know it wasn't welcome by tagging buildings and mailboxes with messages like, "Nike = sweatshops = get lost." Earlier this week, a pair of sneakers, dripping with red paint, appeared overnight hanging from the Presto sign.
The battle culminated last night when local youth, together with the Maquila Solidarity Network and UNITE, organized an anti-Nike street party and counter-concert to protest the company's sweatshop labour practices and infiltration of the Kensington Market. Staged on a balcony three doors down from Presto, the concert opened with the local break-dancing crew SheBang! B-Girls. Before a crowd of over 300 people, electronic artists mixed beats between speeches by MSN, UNITE, local author Jim Munroe and the Toronto Public Space Committee. The street was shut down for two hours as youth danced, partied and chanted "Nike go home!"
Surprisingly the familiar Nike swoosh was nowhere to be seen on the club. Many residents had no idea it was a Nike marketing project until they walked through the door and saw the sneaker display on the wall and all the staff wearing Nikes. But it didn't take long for opposition to grow against this attempt to infiltrate the local indie arts community.
Market residents also approached their local city councillor to complain about Presto's high noise levels in a residential neighbourhood. By-law inspectors were sent to Presto one night and found the club was running without a permit, with noise levels exceeding allowable limits.
On July 18, the night of the counter-concert, Nike decided to pull the plug on music at their venue and simply use the space as a Presto display room until August 17. At that point the marketing project ends and Nike will pull out of the Market. They are not expected back any time soon.