Produced by: Dan Hwang
Written by: John Kim
This past summer we were all witness to Nike’s unmatched ability to change the game through a groundbreaking product release. The brand’s revolutionary Flyknit technology was used to create the Flyknit Racer and Flyknit Trainer+ running shoes, each featuring an upper built with synthetic yarns. They answered the modern runner’s demand for a lightweight minimalist shoe that fit as comfortably as a sock, but for Nike, the bigger breakthrough lay in the very conception of the shoe. A new manufacturing process, in which a virtually seamless one-piece upper is attached to the Lunarlon sole unit, meant a substantial reduction in production costs, as well as a major boost to Nike’s sustainability efforts. Nike’s dedication to promoting Flyknit as the Next Big Thing was no more apparent than the development of the Flyknit Collective, a worldwide creative initiative that celebrates the core principles of Flyknit technology: performance, lightness, formfitting and sustainability.
According to Ben Shaffer, Flyknit designer and Studio Director from the Innovation Kitchen, Nike’s ability to develop technology built on those four pillars started from reengineering the simple process of knitting to create a performance product. Working closely with athletes (“the ultimate client”), Shaffer and his team set about pairing lightness with formfitting, with the goal of creating an upper that fits one to one with the foot, much like a sock, thereby “amplifying” the lightweight experience.