With the release of the new Nike Tech Fleece collection, the sportswear giant continues its reign in both sportswear and streetwear with a range of new styles. We sat down with Nike Sportswear Design Director for Apparel, John Burlo, to find out more about the new collection.
When Nike launched their Tech Fleece collection last year they revolutionized sweatsuits forever. Breaking new limits for the age-old tracksuit fabric, the range also caused a stir on the streets as people started wearing the items mixed in with regular streetwear, further supporting the sportswear as streetwear trend. Now releasing their second full Tech Fleece collection, Nike is back with more styles, cementing the Tech Fleece's place as a favorite among their impressive repertoire of clothing lines. We sat down with John Burlo, the Apparel Design Director for Nike Sportswear, to see what's next for the range.
What was the original inspiration for creating the Tech Fleece?
Everything started with the question “How can we be super lightweight as well as create a product that fits closer to the body in motion?” The flat over-lock is taken from a wetsuit but much of the design is inspired by the elements of Portland. The thought process was about what people need if they are traveling around the city like the media pockets for phones or something that keeps you warm — some of these pieces can be worn as outerwear, too. The aesthetics and style of the product share an equal importance in terms of equipping athletes with confidence. If you are feeling great when you walk out onto the pitch, or even onto the street, and you are supported by all this technology and innovation, chances are you are going to perform to a high level.
What is the fabric and how is it made?
The idea around Tech Fleece is really solving the problem around thermal regulation, taking the idea of neoprene fabric like that in wetsuits and the idea of bonding two separate fabrics together to create a fabric that mechanically insulates. It traps heat into the body from your body heat, but also acts as a windbreaker and releases excess heat as well. If you cut the fabric to see the actual fiber you get two fabrics with fibers in between them, which creates a kind of air stream or air fleece.
What are some of the benefits that Tech Fleece offers?
Nike Tech Fleece fabric offers the ultimate in lightweight warmth that responds to the natural motion of the wearer. The smooth jersey facing gives the garments a comfortable, streamlined look both inside and out, while the inner foam enhances the fleece’s functionality. It is a lighter, warmer, and more breathable fleece iteration than its predecessors.
What was the design inspiration for the original lineup of styles?
Originally we wanted to tailor the line around the idea of the modern look of sport. We wanted to reinvigorate fleece, which traditionally comes loose fitting and baggy. To do that we turned to Nike’s extensive apparel archive and rethought a few of the company’s staples - the crew, hoodie, track jacket and windrunner; and for women we chose the cape, funnel neck hoodie and windrunner.
More silhouettes have since been added. What was the inspiration for these new, more fashion-focused styles?
The new silhouettes were inspired by both increased functionality and style. On the men’s side we chose to continue reinventing our heritage styles by solving elemental problems like rain and wind. Our women’s Tech Butterfly is an evolution of the Tech Cape from the first collection. We focused on increasing the range of motion to create a product that would seamlessly fit into an active lifestyle.
There is a popular saying here that goes “There is no finish line,” to me that means the possibilities are endless.
Athletes such as Serena Williams have been involved in the campaign. Has there been any design input from professional athletes in the designs?
Definitely, that’s the Nike way. Many of our athletes were able to try out the pieces from the Fall 2014 collection prior to it’s release. These opportunities are great for the design teams here because they provide the chance to really get honest feedback from the exact people we are designing for. It’s what keeps us moving in the right direction.
Are there any plans to create similar ranges with other fabrics, still using the Nike Tech name?
Nike Tech Pack is an opportunity to reimagine and redefine the uniform and fabric of sport. We are committed to non-stop innovation; our search for fresh, new solutions for everyday problems will never end and is sure to produce completely new ideas.
Are there any plans to incorporate other Nike technologies within the range, for example Flyknit?
At Nike innovation is our passion and is something we will never stop doing. We are always looking to incorporate performance design into lifestyle solutions, If a footwear innovation provided a benefit that could be leveraged on apparel I would consider incorporating it in the design of a new Tech Pack collection.
What upcoming things can we expect from the Tech Fleece range?
Like I mentioned before, the Nike design teams are constantly searching for new innovations to incorporate into our products. There is a popular saying here that goes “There is no finish line,” to me that means the possibilities are endless. What I can say is that we will continue to increase the functionality of Nike Tech Pack by focusing on solving elemental problems for each season. How that takes form, you’re going to have to wait and see.
Check out our interviews with Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving, Nike Basketball Footwear Design Director Leo Chang, Jordan Brand Global Innovation Design Director of Footwear Rob Bruce and Nike Sportswear Designer Mark Dolce.