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Nike Unveils A High-Tech Sweatshirt, Inspired By Surfing Gear

Nike’s latest innovation–materialized in the Tech Fleece Collection–revamps the classics.

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The latest clothing intro from Nike is something of a triple threat in apparel: it’s technologically forward, streamlined for athletes, and boasts a runway-approved silhouette. The sportswear giant is launching the new Nike Tech Fleece Collection this week, in sync with this week’s U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, New York.

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“We really wanted to create an ownable fabric for Nike sportswear. We were doing brush back fleece, we were doing French terry, but we really wanted to bring some innovation to our lifestyle apparel,” says Nike Design Director Jessica Laird, who applied that thinking to some of Nike’s most iconic apparel fashions like the Fleece Windrunner.

The latest high-tech fabric strips away unnecessary weight by trapping the athlete’s body heat with a trilayer fabric–two sheets of micro-thin cotton with a plush foam center in the middle. That feather-light foam quickly insulates and enables performance–much like the company’s ultralightweight Flyknit shoe. The Nike team found that, although Flyknit only weighed in at a few grams lighter than typical shoes, over the course of a marathon, that accumulates into a ton and half less weight to carry. Tech Fleece promises to do the same.

It’s a sign of Nike’s relentless pursuit of innovative material solutions that the design inspiration for the Fleece Collection came not from tennis players but from surfing culture. Laird says one of their Nike design team members had “an epiphany” at the beach, when he saw surfers emerging from the water. The flat paneling and sleek silhouettes of wetsuits was something that could be duplicated in Nike’s lifestyle apparel. “When he saw the surfer guys, this neoprene fabric, we said, ‘How can we do this in a cotton-based fabric?'” Laird tells Co.Design. The wetsuit-inspired details include bonded zippers, top seams, and flat stitching, all of which amounts to a clean-lined silhouette–smart enough for on or off the court.

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The Nike Tech Pack Fleece Collection includes five new styles, and can be had local retailers and here.

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.

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