FIGHT OR FLIGHT
At the 2012 London Olympics, Nike debuted its now-lauded Flyknit technology, a strong and ultralight synthetic yarn used to construct durable, breathable sneakers. Five years later, Nike is now taking Flyknit into a brand-new realm: the sports bra. Launched in July, the Fe/nom bra is made from a near-seamless, porous fabric that weighs only 73 grams (which is 30% less than any other Nike bra) and solves problems like chafing and constriction.
The Flyknit bra is part of Nike’s recent campaign to appeal to women at a time of increasing competition in active apparel. Women now have more options than ever when it comes to running tights and sports bras in the nearly $1.7 trillion sportswear market. To better respond to female consumers, Nike holds focus groups with athletes around the world and uses the resulting insights to design clothes and gear for people of all abilities and sizes. The sports bra is the product of 600 hours of biometric testing by the company’s women’s training division, which scanned athletes to identify areas of heat, sweat, cooling, and movement. “The Flyknit offers the highest levels of support while adjusting to different breast shapes,” says Nicole Rendone, a senior innovation designer. Over the past year, Nike has also worked with plus-size models and sports figures to introduce an expanded range of athletic wear in more inclusive sizes, and partnered with Muslim athletes to design a sports hijab. “The thing that continues to ground us,” says Nike’s general manager of women’s, Amy Montagne, “is knowing female athletes better than anyone.”
MILESTONES In July, Nike began selling a selection of products on Amazon. The partnership will help cut down on third-party sales, which Amazon will now actively monitor.
CHALLENGES Nike has cut 2% of its workforce as it struggles to produce a breakout hit. 2016’s best-selling shoe by dollar sales was the Adidas Superstar.
Nike’s new Fe/nom bra is made from its lightweight, breathable Flyknit technology.