Its once ubiquitous pitchman Tiger Woods may be laying low these days, but Nike continues to shine with a winning array of inventive shoes, clothing and retails stores, clever customization tools, and compelling green solutions. Here are the 2009 highlights from No. 13 on our Most Innovative Companies list.
Its once ubiquitous pitchman Tiger Woods may be laying low these days, but Nike
continues to shine with a winning array of inventive shoes, clothing and retails stores, clever customization tools, and compelling green solutions. Here are the 2009 highlights from No. 13 on our Most Innovative Companies
Additional reporting by Danielle Sacks
At this Laguna Beach store, SoCal wakeboarders, BMX-ers and skaters customize Chuck Taylor All Stars and Hurley board shorts with their favorite artwork. “Action sports is the fastest-growing segment of our business,” says Jeanne Jackson, who runs Nike’s direct-to-consumer business. “Today’s young customer expects a deeper connection.”
Zoom MVP Trash Talk
Waste not, want this. The shoe of choice for FC cover dude
, two-time league MVP and eco-aware entrepreneur Steve Nash, the Trash Talk is made of scrap materials from its manufacturing process. It’s part of Nike’s Considered Design, which focuses on developing sustainable practices, such as low-toxin rubber. Nike shares these solutions with other companies through GreenXchange, a new open-source Web marketplace it co-founded with Best Buy, Yahoo, and others.
During his return to last year’s Tour de France, Lance Armstrong didn’t have to look far to see the support of the Livestrong community and what his racing meant to people affected by cancer. It was scrawled right there on the French roads, courtesy of Chalkbot. The custom-made machine took messages submitted by fans online and painted them on the race course in yellow chalk.
Nike Pro Combat
Willis Reed, whose brilliant career for the New York Knicks was cut short by injuries, should have been so lucky as to wear these shorts. The form-fitting protective pads, which are now common in the NBA, confirm what high-school coaches routinely preach: “Basketball’s a contact sport, kiddo.”
Nike’s flagship retail store in Japan opened in Tokyo last November. In the first-floor Runner’s Studio, customers have their running stride analyzed, so they can be matched with the appropriate shoes. In the second-floor NikeiD Studio, the largest such Nike studio in Asia, they can customize shoes and apparel to their own specs, instead of just buying something off the rack. The third-floor Boot Room is dedicated to all things soccer, one of only two worldwide.
Nike Training Club
“Just sync it” should be this app’s motto. Users create a virtual personal trainer at Nikewomen.com, and then select a workout (such as core or yoga), difficulty level, and frequency. Once they sync up their iPhone, the app tracks their progress and shares fitness videos. They can also share workouts with friends to either compete or ask for encouragement.
Leave it to Nike to turn the simplest item of clothing into high-tech threads. Made with a Nike water repellent called DWR, this cotton hoody doubles as a rain coat to keep you dry.
Tiger may be taking time off, but Nike’s golf R&D team is keeping busy. Made of steel and polymer, the head of this putter is grooved to generate forward spin on contact. That reduces bounce and keeps the ball on target.
CTR360 Maestri Football Boot
All sports gear promises to make athletes better. But this cleat delivers by giving buyers a special code to access a private area of Nikefootball.com where they obtain training pointers and other soccer instruction.
Niketown London Boot Room
In anticipation of the World Cup this summer, Nike launched the Boot Room in London to appeal to soccer-mad teens. Working with on-site design consultants, players assemble their ideal shoe, picking elements like a shot-shield for maximum spin or feel, just like the pros do.
Zoom Kobe IV
Nike’s lightest basketball shoe yet -- just 11.6 ounces. Following Kobe’s specs, it’s a low-rise shoe, giving him maximum maneuverability to cut around the double- and triple-teams he faces.