I went to Athleta.com to link to some pants I wanted to discuss here, and saw this.

AthletaSite

I hit “refresh” four times because I couldn’t believe it was true. Cursive as site body copy, and with tabs in all caps?! I can hardly read the text, much less tell the difference between “Skorts,” “Skirts,” and “Shorts” (bottom left, in the menu). I started to wonder if Athleta believes that selling sportswear to females means the font must be girly and curly. And if so, how offensive! I thought Athleta was leading the movement away from women having only flimsy, decorative sports bras and pink running shoe options! And how disappointing, given the motto of Athleta: “Power to the She.” There is nothing powerful about script in all caps! And that kerning…wince, wince, wince.

As I started to question everything I thought was true about the company, I discovered that if you click on one of the tabs, it looks like the Athleta I recognize. Phew.

AthletaSite2

Perhaps the system glitch is related to the fact that both typeface names are Sofia. (Sofia in middle school, Sofia in middle age.)

But no matter what caused it, this glitch makes an excellent example of how script faces are hard to handle for website copy, and how a site can look completely off-brand (and even offend) simply by a change in typeface.

Since I’ve taken up all this time talking about fonts, I’ll save the discussion about the pants (more accurately, a layout featuring pants) for tomorrow. Consider this the first leg of the journey…