Nike announced today that it is upgrading its FIT apparel innovation, calling the new and improved version FIT ADV. As the Swoosh describes it, FIT is akin to the Mercedes C-Class, while FIT ADV is the AMG version of the same car. It’s more powerful, it’s better, and it comes packed with more technology under the hood.
Even if you haven’t heard of FIT before, you’ve definitely worn it before, most likely in the form of Dri-FIT. The technology, which stands for Functional Innovative Technology, can keep you cool and dry (Dri-FIT), protect you from wind and rain (Storm-FIT), or keep you warm (Therma-FIT).
FIT ADV takes all of that to the next level by using all the insights Nike is already collating from its roster of athletes and product testers, and combining it with modern-day technology that allows the brand’s designers to approach their work in a totally new and highly digitalized way. According to Nike, FIT ADV is the pinnacle of the brand’s apparel performance.
The next-gen tech will be used across a range of Nike categories, including ACG. Ahead of FIT ADV’s launch, the subdivision’s design director of apparel, Nur Abbas, and Nike’s VP of apparel innovation Janett Nichol, sat with Highsnobiety to discuss the new technology in detail.
In your own words, what is FIT ADV?
Janett Nichol: FIT, as an innovation has been around at Nike for a long time, but what we've been able to do over the course of a few years is to really advance the technology. FIT ADV is our ability to dimensionalize that to allow athletes to further break the barriers of their sport. In the digital space, there are so many new capabilities that are emerging that have allowed us to do things that we weren't able to do before.
Nur Abbas: At ACG, we really look at the full span of the platform from Dri-FIT to Therma-FIT to Storm-FIT to make sure that that works as a system. We're using ADV in each of those categories to make sure ACG products really work at the pinnacle of what we can do at Nike.
FIT has been around for 30 years, debuting in 1991, so why is now the time for ADV? I assume there have been advancements over the past three decades already.
JN: Our athletes are the core of everything we do. We take them to our research lab. We gather lots of data. There's a lot that has changed in the space of materials and fibers and things that we weren't able to do.
When you bring together what we're learning from our athletes, advancements in design and methods of manufacturing, science and technology, and the advancement of machinery, all of those things have changed what we're able to do with FIT compared to what we were able to do 30 years ago.
How is the way you approach ADV different from how you approached FIT, specifically in regard to ACG?
NA: We were very keen to get on board and explore to the fullest what we could do with ACG, with FIT ADV. As Janett said, there are 30 years worth of advancements in terms of digital design capabilities. All of that has a profound impact on the function of the pieces, but also a huge impact on the designers and how they approach and what that creates with the look.
Already, the fabrics we are using at the base, are much more advanced than where we started off with. With ADV, we have the opportunity to push them even further. Using insights, we can better understand how comfortable our athletes are with certain amounts of insulation or protection, or where they need the most wicking.
Ultimately, ACG. is for the outdoors. It’s for the real world, so we actually get out there and test it on athletes, on ourselves, in those conditions. We make sure those insights all come together into the final product.
How does the ADV product compare to the original FIT product in ACG’s catalog?
NA: It was almost a coincidence, but the ACG team had started looking through the archives and were looking at some of the original pieces that had FIT branding on them. We were like, “why don’t we have this anymore?”
I suppose the difference looking at those pieces back then is that they were relatively rudimentary. When something was called Storm-FIT, there was only so much you could do. Sure, there was GORE-TEX at that time, but coming to where we are now, it's really a different level.
It's hard to compare them. They might both say Storm-FIT. One from the early nineties, one from 2021. But there is a huge gap between those things. You have fabrics that have advanced much further, the methods of manufacturing, the insights, and the depth-driven digital capabilities. It is really a huge leap.