A high-profile Nike designer who worked for the brand for decades has departed to take a position at Adidas. Ken Link, who most recently worked as a design director for Jordan Brand and designed most of LeBron James' early signature Nike shoes, posted an announcement about leaving the company on his personal Instagram account on Oct. 30.
His LinkedIn page here lists Link's current employer as "///," a reference to Adidas, and his title as design VP for basketball. Adidas' global general manager for its basketball category, Kris Aman, is a close friend of Link's who worked at Nike from 1996 till 2013.
Link declined to comment to Sole Collector about his new job at Adidas, and the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Usually designers at sportswear brands like Nike have non-compete clauses in their contracts requiring them to sit out for a designated period before going to a competitor, and it's unclear if that's the case with Link or if he's already begun his tenure with Adidas.
Link is not the only longtime Nike designer to leave the brand recently. Tiffany Beers, who developed important Nike projects like its auto-lacing shoes, ended her Nike career of 13 years in September to work for Tesla.
The news comes at a tough time for Nike, which has implemented waves of layoffs that will cut two percent of its global work force in the wake of a sales slump. Also troubling for the company has been the resurgence of rival Adidas, which just posted a 31-percent sales jump in the last quarter for North America.