Nike just does it: applies footwear technology to apparel
Nike today is launching the Fe/Nom bra, the first apparel product to use Flyknit technology, which until now has been reserved for footwear.
“We’re going to apply the benefits across Nike apparel,” said Nicole Rendone, senior bra innovation designer at Nike. “We’ll continue to expand bras and all apparel, including leggings and socks. Flyknit could be used in anything. We think it’s huge. This is only the beginning.”
The new bra offers flexibility, breathability and conforms to the body in the same way that Flyknit conforms exactly to the shape of a foot.
“This changes everything for us and for women,” said Rendone. Asked why Nike chose a bra for its first Flyknit apparel product, Rendone said, “It’s an essential item. We felt the bra had the ultimate benefit and the largest challenge. We also thought the bra was the most exciting place to start.”
Nike Flyknit, which bowed at the 2012 London Summer Olympics with the Nike Flyknit Racer, is a digitally-engineered knitting process used in lightweight, formfitting and virtually seamless shoe uppers. The technology is used in Nike sport footwear including the Zoom Fearless Flyknit women’s training shoe and Kevin Durant’s signature Nike KD10.
For the new bra, engineers and designers logged more than 600 hours of biometric testing on women in a variety of shapes and sizes and created atlas maps, which involve digital body scans to find areas of high heat, sweat, cooling and movement.
The Nike team was able to significantly reduce the materials and seams in the Fe/Nom bra. “We looked at high support bras and all the elements,” Rendone said. “Other high-support Nike bras can have up to 41 pieces and 22 seams. The Fe/Nom Flyknit bra has two panels and a binding and is 30 percent lighter than any other bra in Nike’s line.”
Flyknit enabled Nike to put components such as encapsulation and compression in a single knit panel. Using different knit structures and densities, designers were able to supply control and support without the use of components such as wires, pads, stabilizers and elastics.
“If you think of the components, they’re the major points of irritation,” Rendone said. “Bonded-on components and elastic bands are common sources of irritation. Our bands are really thin.”
Constructed with an ultra-soft nylon-spandex yarn that conforms to the body, the Fe/Nom uses two single-layer panels that are assembled for a seamless feel.
Rendone pointed out that Flyknit is environmentally friendly. “Knitting is very sustainable and produces minimal waste,” she said. “When you knit, it’s not like you’re cutting away fabric and throwing pieces away.”
The $80 Nike Fe/Nom Flyknit bra is being sold exclusively for 48 hours on the Nike+ app. After that it will be available on nike.com. The bra in October will launch worldwide and eventually roll out to stores.
Rendone explained that the bra, which comes in sizes XS to XL, is available in only one colorway for now. “We didn’t want to wait for other colors to put this on the market,” she said. “Future styles and colors will be coming and are in the works already.”
The designer is her own testimonial. “I ran six miles in the bra and I’ve worn it as a top,” she said. “You feel like you’re wearing nothing. It’s a bra you’ll want to wear all day long.”