So far FlyKnit technology has been limited to footwear in two particular models. Will we be seeing it move to apparel like you infamously did with the FlyWire jacket in 2009?
The interesting thing is that the FlyKnit technology actually came from apparel. It’s knitting. I’d say any designer who’s good, who’s working really hard, inside of Nike or out, is always looking outside of their comfort zone for new ways to produce what they’re working on. That might be looking outside of the normal footwear manufacturing and somehow they pick apparel manufacturing. The beauty of knit from an apparel point of view is that there’s no human operation so there’s less room for human error and it’s sustainable, so there’s hardly any waste, if any. But they took their footwear knowledge and flipped it on it’s ear and did something that had never really happened in an apparel context, so it was really exciting how they did that. As far as FlyKnit coming into apparel, I’d say that we’re always experimenting.
Is there potential for the process to go full circle back into the apparel range?
We have to be careful. Like I was saying before about defining one problem and solving it the same way for footwear and apparel and equipment. We have to make sure that it’s the right innovation or technology because it could just become stupid. It might not make any sense. So I think what’s more important is to solve for the same issues. So this is about lightweight, mobility, sustainability and formfitting and I’m trying to solve the same things for apparel, but it might come in a different way or a different material.
Are there any specific developments at Nike that you find particularly exciting at the moment?
I’d say a lot of the performance apparel that’s coming from running and coming from the training lines is super exciting. First and foremost it’s performance gear; it fits right, it’s moisture wicking and all of those details are inherent in the product. But there’s kind of this new aesthetic happening and it’s really confident about its performance. It’s not trying to look like something it’s not.
I see this new era of performance apparel design coming from Nike and it’s ripe for getting adopted by somebody in the wrong way. The same way it happened in the 80′s where kids were taking track suits and then wearing them to go breakdance or whatever and I see that on the cusp of what’s happening. The designs have become so confident and real. That’s the kind of stuff that’s exciting to me, over a specific technology or something.
In recent years Nike Sportswear has moved to become it’s own lifestyle range. Was this a conscious effort or just a response to how people were using the clothing?
I think it’s a bit of both. If there wasn’t a demand for it, I don’t think we would have that collection. That being said, there’s something really awesome about designing something wether it’s a chair or shoe or jacket and then once it leaves your hands and it goes out into the world, whatever culture does with it, it happens. It gets adopted by whoever and gets re-appropriated and put into a totally different context and we have no choice, we have no control and I love that. I love that!
When you see something that was not intended for that use but now you’re using it that way, that’s the coolest thing. I think that’s the origins of Nike Sportswear. We made the true, honest performance gear and kids, athletes, whatever, made up their minds that they weren’t just going to wear it on the pitch or they weren’t just gonna wear it on field, they were gonna wear it out when they’re hanging out with their fiends or when they went to a club or when they danced. And then they wore it in the wrong size and did all these things that were never intended and I love that. I love that way of no choice over what happens with it.