Nike just dropped the lookbook for its latest tech pack, releasing on January 10, 2019, with a limited release on December 21. The forthcoming capsule uses a new waffle knit and woven performance materials and includes running tights, track jackets, shorts, sports bras, gloves, layering pieces, and cropped hooded jackets in silver, volt, and electric pink colorways.
To better understand the shifts in strategy from Nike, Highsnobiety's editor-at-large Christopher Morency spoke with Nike's Kurt Parker, Vice President of Apparel Design, and Jessica Lomax, Design Director Women's Apparel, to glean their thoughts on developing the collection at a panel in London earlier today.
I’m fascinated by Nike’s strategy to increasingly merge its fashion and performance divisions. It feels like a shift from Nike’s old way of thinking. What’s behind that strategy change?
Kurt Parker: For the right reasons, we used to be very focused on very specific athlete conditions, so the footballer, the runner etc. Tech Pack and Tech Fleece in particular started to shift that conversation because a grey hoodie is everyone’s favorite workout fleece but it’s not a great piece to workout or run in. Tech Fleece was brought in to create a really modern point of view for something really familiar that consumers around the world had already voted for. It started to reflect a point that what you expect to see in performance. It looked like the product you would see runners in or footballers, but it wasn’t really familiar.
For the first season it was grey with the black accents which were bringing some of the modern methods into the mix like seam sealing and bonding. Looking at ways to eliminate those distractions, because fleece is also very heavy, this was much lighter etc. It started to resonate with people. Then we started seeing people doing things in it that we never anticipated like running in the rain etc. We didn’t expect it to be adopted in the way it was. Once we realized that people were using it for performance, we started to figure out that people do not just one thing (running, football, training etc).
Now it’s like run, train, sport and live. So we’re pulling influences from our football training line into our tech pack, influences from running and our other business, so it’s a little bit more of the performance mindset, but still has the aesthetic and style that people are used to.
Where is that line between performance and fashion? Mark Parker once said that Nike will never be a fashion brand. How far can you push that fashion line?
Kurt Parker: Yeah, we still believe that today. Sport and innovation are at the core of what we do. And instead of shifting sport to fashion we’ve just acknowledged that sport happens everyday, life is sport, so with that it really opened the aperture for us to look at it differently.
There’s been an incredible fusion of streetwear into fashion and streetwear into sport and everything has collided in this great expression of all those things, so we want to tap in that too but we want to do it in an authentic way for the brand and feel like we define the on-field aesthetic of what modern sport stands for.
Tech Pack gives us a way to extend that point of view to the consumer and look at colour, graphics, materials in a much more expressive way. Our old look at performance was very identifiable and now we’re looking at new expressions of style, that’s when we’re at our best.
What was the inspiration for collection? Jessica Lomax: From the aesthetic point of view, I like to start each new collection with a photoshoot, so we’ll get the whole team in a workshop environment, cut up existing stuff, create new samples and then style it to create new proportions. Everyone really enjoys to create that new content.
With all the advancements happening in technology, there’s almost this counter reaction where people want really human experiences. We love this concept of mixing high innovation with something more human, and natural. So we’ll have like an undyed cotton and mix it with a died neon, volt colour. We love the mixture of the organic with the hyper-tech. Other example is this almost linen-like natural fibre mixed with this technical, water-resistant laminate.
How were you thinking about the street with performance?
Jessica: We work with performance all over the world. It’s very different city by city. Especially climate wise. I just moved to New York with the team and a big part of that was to also live the lifestyle to test the products. In and out of the subway, in and out of yoga classes, back to work and meet with friends etc. You can tell very quickly what works and what doesn’t.