M Den unveils new Nike football gear

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
M Den unveiled new Nike football gear Wednesday morning.

Ypsilanti – Nike Madness has hit Michigan and Ann Arbor, and very appropriately the M Den, the official merchandise retailer for Michigan gear, is going for a midnight madness launch.

The M Den will host a four-hour party to kick off sales of new Nike product with doors opening on State Street at 11:59 p.m. July 31.

Michigan officially begins its Nike affiliation on Aug. 1.

Since it was revealed about a year ago that Michigan was moving back to Nike apparel and equipment, Scott Hirth, co-owner of the M Den, said fans have called the various M Den stores daily wanting to know details about the sale of Nike gear.

“People are obviously fired up by this a lot,” Hirth said Wednesday at the M Den warehouse during a Nike reveal for a handful of local media.

The new Michigan football jersey, however, and training shoe (AJ Trainer 1), will not be available until Aug. 6 at the M Den and on the website. It won’t be shipped to other retailers until Aug. 8 or later. Nike will host an unveiling of the jersey on Aug. 2, but that will not be open to the public.

Nike has branded its own color of maize called “Amarillo,” which is Spanish for yellow. Nike will only use that color for Michigan items.

Hirth said because of the rabid fan interest it became evident the store needed to open at midnight on the first day of the Nike contract with Michigan. Fans can purchase Nike product on the store’s website beginning at midnight.

“We’ve greatly increased the capacity of our online portal,” Hirth said. “We’ll be able to handle (the demand).”

This is the 40th year of the M Den and for as long as Hirth can remember, this Nike launch stands on its own during the history of the business.

“The only thing that can even come close, I believe, is a national championship in either football or basketball,” Hirth said. “We had one of those (football) in 1997, and that was a big deal, but the nature of licensed product has changed dramatically since 1997.

“So I think this is as big as anything would ever be on the licensed product front here at the University of Michigan, absent winning a national championship.”

With that in mind, the M Den will be making the Nike launch a bit of a spectacle with a State Street party that will begin at 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. The State Street store and Victors Collection will remain open until 10 p.m. Monday night.

State Street will be blocked off between William and Liberty Streets to allow fans to enjoy the festivities that will include performances by the Michigan Marching Band and the U-M dance team. There will be a DJ, and several special guests, not yet finalized, who will be part of the launch. Videos will be shown, there will be contests and giveaways and photo opportunities with giant Block Ms, Nike swooshes and Jumpmans, and there will be food and drink.

All of the fall football items, about 300, Hirth said, will be available will be for purchase except for the football jerseys. Basketball and hockey apparel will be sold later. The Victors Collection will sell many of the golf-style clothing.

Beginning Aug. 1, the M Den’s five other store locations will open at 10 a.m.