“A sock fits great, feels snug, goes unnoticed, and you get no irritation,” Bignell explains. “So the idea was, how do you engineer a sock into a high-performance shoe?” It soon became apparent that this idea was hard to execute. The first biggest challenge: there was no technology in the world available to create knitted footwear.
Powered by the input of athletes, Nike gathered a team of programmers, engineers, and designers to develop a shoe-making technique that never existed before. “The intricacies of the work – building static structures and support into a dynamic knit – demanded entirely new machinery and software. We were challenging a fundamental way of making shoes”, says Ben Shaffer, studio director for Nike Innovation Kitchen.
The product of the new technology is the Nike Flyknit, a patchwork of feather-light, high-quality polyester yarn and supportive cables that are weft into the knit. A Lunarlon cushion sole completes the shoe.
The Nike Flyknit will make its grand entrance in the Olympics as it will be worn by marathon racers from the United States, Kenya, Russia, and the U.K. Not a big fan of running but fallen in love with this new knitting technique? Good news. Nike is also releasing a limited streetwear-friendly edition called HTM Flyknit.
The video below illustrates the story behind Nike Flyknit technology.