At Nike, the belief that “if you have a body, you are an athlete” isn’t just an affirmation of human potential. The phrase also spurs the design process — helping teams innovate, create and envision bold solutions. Few years have witnessed the breadth of this truth like 2019. In fact, the most memorable products of the year speak to an essential quest to bring innovation, and thus inspiration, to all.
From the fields of France to the hallways of our local hospital, here are the ideas that soared in 2019:
Designing for the Female Footballer
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Paris this summer didn’t just signal a tipping point for women’s football. It also marked the occasion to unveil a new women’s specific fit for the 14 Nike Federations, a dialogue three years in the making between Nike designers and some of the world’s best players. The refining included alterations small and large, from the specific height of the V-neck, to the rise of the short, to heat-mapping areas of high perspiration to account for ventilation zones. In other words, the kits were designed to the precise requests of female athletes. Carrying the women’s cut over to training, travel, pre-match and post-match looks, the approach focused solely on serving the top female athletes as they played on the world stage.
Growing FlyEase from the Ground Up
Created for athletes with physical disabilities, along with those who want an easy on-off option, the Air Zoom UNVRS arose from the principles of FlyEase, enabling all athletes to compete and play in sport regardless of physical capacity or dexterity. The shoe was worn by Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne, who passionately led the concept as a result of her experience with her sister, Lizzie, who lives with disabilities. The FlyEase platform expanded to the Jordan Brand in October and entered the gridiron with a special-edition FlyEase Football Cleat for defensive end Shaquem Griffin of the Seattle Seahawks.
Making Fast Even Faster
In July, the undertaking of the Zoom Vaporfly 4% moved forward with the introduction of the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%. The line is an example of how product design can capture the fascination of an entire sporting community and, more broadly, inspire new benchmarks of athletic potential.
Refining Fit and Feel Through Platforms
In January, Nike’s uncompromising dedication to progressing fit was demonstrated by the debut of a new advanced power-lacing system, Nike Adapt, that first appearing in the Nike Adapt BB. The technology evolved out of the vision of the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, and is a first step toward intelligent product. The Adapt Huarache, which launched in August, extends the premise of the platform to all-day city wear.
Nike Joyride, a proprietary cushioning innovation, released in July. The system, created on a footbed made of TPU bead pods, allows the foam to expand in all directions. The benefits of Joyride apply to shoes designed for running, sportswear and young athletes, bringing a new range of runners into the fold by showing them that the sport isn’t all gassed lungs — it can be fun too.
Creating for All Sport Communities
It might seem surprising that a substance as pure as water could pose so many nuanced barriers to fully enjoy it. An awareness of the cultural and physical implications of swim for women was the starting point for the Nike Victory Swim, a collection with full-coverage options that brings innovation to modest swimwear.
“As we continue broadening our vision for innovation, we’re excited to inspire more women to see themselves in sport by thinking creatively and designing inclusively,” says Martha Moore, Nike Creative Director, VP. “To us, Nike Victory Swim Collection shows the power of innovation to invite all women to discover the joy of sport.”
Honoring Real-Life Superheroes
Workers in the healthcare field, spending upward of 12 hours a day on their feet in fast-paced settings, were the focus for the new Air Zoom Pulse. With its vocation-specific design, the shoe gifts the wearer a non-slip outsole for wet surfaces, an entrypoint that’s easy to step into and more.