Continuing to be a hugely popular running silhouette since its arrival in early 2012, the Nike Flyknit Racer returns in one of its most popular colourways this week, the ‘Cookies and Cream’. A colourway that originally appeared dubbed the ‘Oreo’ in mid’2015 (not counting the re-appearance of the slightly altered ‘Oreo’ later in 2015). Fans of the original will have another chance to get their hands on the classic colourway when it lands again this Friday at select JD Sports stores and online. In our preview of the Nike Flyknit we take an up close look at the forthcoming release alongside one of our new favorites, the University Red/Black colourway.
The Nike Flyknit Racer… beginnings and now…
This super lightweight and hyper close, form-fit racing flat continues to impress 5 years after it’s debut with its still innovative yet highly complex Flyknit upper. Aided with the durable, full length Phylon midsole, supporting zoom air units with incredible traction supplied by micro waffleskin outsoles, altogether makes for a very serious runner indeed. Its textile upper lends itself to striking colour combinations and underneath the sharp looks, lies a tech heavy piece of game changing innovation that was long in refinement. Prior to the Flyknit debut in 2012, after almost 10 years of research and development, Nike premiered the Flyknit with the basic idea behind the runner was to produce a shoe that would eliminate as much as possible all the material weight and fit of traditional running flats. Nike wanted to look at how to push the technology and properties of a shoe that could resemble as much as possible the form-fitting qualities of a sock but also provide the feel, support, and structure of a sneaker. Runners, they heard, had wanted as little of shoe, or distraction, on their feet as was physically or conceptually possible. On this concept, Nike then duly spent 4 years just developing and testing the process to pursue a softer textile/fibre idea as a material property for use as an upper application, and sought to experiment with it which ultimately led to a precision engineered, knit-like woven structure. With production techniques closely guarded, the computer aided weave pattern is pure design achievement in itself. Eventually Nike developed methods to create the alternate weave structure and the spun yarn fibres/filament which could provide and produce a weave pattern that could flex in a manner that could provide support and strength in multi directions. After much reductive development, the near ready Flyknit concept became a seamless, super lightweight running flat, a mere 6oz (10us).
In early promotion and release sessions, Nike CEO Mark Parker and acute product tastemaker Hiroshi Fujiwara presented talks on Nike’s Flyknit development and had showcased the un-assembled Flyknit uppers as a delicate 1 piece woven material. The highly intricate weave had incorporated Flywire lacing crisscrossing throughout the weave, uni-directional for a secure all round foot fit/grip. Impressively, the development of Nike’s Flyknit weave using a polyester yarn meant they could vary the thickness and lengths to produce weaves of varying flexibility and durability in order to apply it to the demands of different sports activities. As a running flat, the Nike Flyknit racer is amongst the lightest available today, with a true form-fit, fully breathable upper making light work of the demands of every running session. Amazingly, with no production offcuts or material by-products, in the last 4 years up to 2016 alone, Nike has announced waste reductions of over 1,500,00 kgs, claiming with the Flyknit, an overall 60% waste reduction has been achieved. In 2016, Nike produced all core yarns from recycled polyester, which translated, amounted to over 180 million plastic bottles saved from landfill sites. Weightless running and saving the planet? How could you not?
All photography by EUKicks