We sat down with Nike’s Global Creative Director of Football, Martin Lotti, to learn more about what the Beaverton Behemoth has planned for the 2014 World Cup.
At this year’s Nike Global Football Innovation Summit in Madrid, Spain, the athletic giant introduced a range of key products, including the Mercurial Superfly Boot alongside many others. To learn more about what Nike has in store for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we sat down with the brand’s Global Creative Director of Football, Martin Lotti. See what he had to say below.
What were you doing at Nike before this project for the World Cup?
I‘ve been with Nike for 17 years and I’ve had many different roles, but right before this I was Global Creative Director for the Olympics of Nike.
How did you apply the knowledge and skills you picked up from working at the Olympics to what you’re doing now for the World Cup?
They’re actually very similar, both are big sporting events – from a scale perspective and an energy point of view. There are actually a lot more similarities than differences. Obviously when it comes to football there is the culture of football; it runs really, really deep in the national pride, so being able to translate a lot of those feelings from big sporting moments in the Olympics and football into product, but then also going super deep into the culture of football. It’s kind of bringing those two worlds together into one.
How did you take the passion for football on the field and bring it off the field into the lifestyle realm?
When we talk to our athletes they say they want to look good on and off the pitch, so it feels very natural for us to extend it all the way out. It starts with performance on the pitch but then actually, specifically speaking for Brazil, we design collections before they leave for Brazil, while they’re in Brazil and during Brazil. There’s a certain outfit for each moment: when they train, their press moments, etc.
We took lifestyle products from our sportswear line and reimagined them for the lands of Brazil and for the federation. For example, the N98 jacket we re-fabricated in this Tech Fleece fabrication and another on the same actual jacket but with an iridescent finish to make it more shimmery as the Brazilian light is this bright crisp light, so it will make it look amazing.
And what about the Air Jordan 6?
Michael Jordan loves Brazilian football, that was the starting point. If you look at Neymar and you follow him on Instagram, you won’t see him without the Jordan hat on. So it was this kind of mutual respect of each other and of the game and it felt very natural do a collaboration.
Now specifically speaking, why this one? Well, because Brazil is going for their sixth star – they already have five World Cups and they’re going for their sixth star, hence why we went for the Jordan 6. Preemptive and kind of like, this is what they’re shooting for, that’s their goal and inspiration. It was funny, when we showed this jersey to the coach of Brazil, he looked at it and said he absolutely loved it, but that it was missing the sixth star. So that’s why we elevated this one, it actually comes with a whole collection. So there’s a Barbour jacket that comes with it, some apparel pieces with it and some other footwear, but the key item is the Jordan 6.
What kind of details are on it that relate to Brazilian football?
Specifically speaking, we looked at the colorways that we played up, while bringing a little bit of a twist as well. So the yellows and greens are a reference to Brazil and the rest is elevating the key elements from Jordan Brand and elevating the key elements of Brazil, and bringing those two worlds together. But this is not just a football event, literally half the world is tuning in, so we work with the women’s team, the skate team, the Hurley team and the Jordan team to bring an entire lifestyle of football together.
For example, on the skate jersey, we saw a lot of our skaters actually wearing the jerseys while they skate. So we’re like, “wow, a perfect opportunity for us to push this one step further” and worked with the graffiti artist Flip Yung to integrate this camo print on the actual jersey. Anyone that is close to the skate world would recognize this font instantly with as its the original Skate and Destroy font. Naturally, we went from Skate and Destroy to Strike and Destroy, so there’s a whole collection around that as well with tees and caps.
What can you tell us about the 3D-printed bag?
A great, fun project to work on and we will only create three bags. One is for Neymar, one is for Cristiano Ronaldo and one for Wayne Rooney. Those are the three bags that we are creating specifically for the World Cup and it’s the first 3D-printed bag for Nike. The bottom of the bag itself is printed and that gives the bag the structure and protection needed, while at the same time being very lightweight. The pattern was inspired by the Magista upper and the bottom has a very literal reference to the Magista – you can actually see the plate of the Magista with its conical studs. Then, we juxtaposed this 3D print with this very rich leather and this is actually a mechanical bond, so there’s no glue involved either. We really had some fun creating a whole new way of building a bag. It’s really actually a beautiful piece of equipment just like the shinguard; it has some beautiful technical details in it as well.
Can you explain the inspiration behind the shinguard?
This is our Mercurial Flylight shinguard which our athletes will be wearing during the World Cup and it’s a completely new way of building shinguards. Usually you have the plastic and then you have the foam behind it. We actually removed the foam and replaced it with this highly compressive material that creates these pistons that absorb the shock. They’re actually very similar to the original Nike waffle, that kind of absorbed as well, so you can see the shape of it is an ode to Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman – he put rubber into a waffle iron. Overall, it gives this look and feel and it is light but super protective all at the same time.
Do you have a favorite product among the collection?
You know, that’s like asking do you have a favorite child? But I do believe what you will see in a moment is gonna be quite breakthrough and then the Magista. I think if there is an icon for the World Cup, I would say it’s this completely breakthrough silhouette of what a football boot can look like. It’s almost not a boot anymore, it’s more of an extension of your body, an inspiration that came from when our athletes were telling us “I wanna have a sock with cleats.” That’s easier said than done, so we had this aspiration for quite some time but couldn’t actually execute until Flyknit came about. Then we took Flyknit, repurposed it specifically for football, and now we’re able to get closer and closer to the goal of this idea of a sock with cleats and almost make the shoe disappear, and have this smooth transition from the body into the boot.
From apparel, we have an icon in the form of the Brazil jersey. We’ve literally been waiting for this for 25 years, ever since we signed the national Brazil team we were hoping to have the World Cup IN Brazil. It doesn’t get much bigger than this. I mean it’s a a football-obsessed country and just a normal game in Brazil is electric. And having the World Cup there, I can’t wait to go there, I mean it’s the next level.