FIGHT OR FLIGHT

Fast Company - - Most Innovative Companies -

Nike

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.

BUZZ

Nike’s new Fe/nom bra is made from its light­weight, breath­able Flyknit tech­nol­ogy.

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