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Nike Forward Advances Apparel Creation with an All-New Material

The brand's most significant apparel innovation since Dri-Fit is here to create a better world.

collage nike crewneck and hoodie

Climate change has the ability to affect any and all facets of our lives, and our fitness is no exception. With fewer and fewer training environments available, it's important to try and re-evaluate our habits to preserve and protect our Earth.

Sure, small changes on an individual level can help, but when a major brand makes sustainability a focal point, the impact can be more of a home run — and that's exactly what Nike's swinging for with its latest innovation.

Nike Forward takes a revolutionary approach to apparel creation with a significantly smaller carbon footprint. Utilizing punch-needle machines for the purpose of making premium, sustainability-minded products, this latest material could drastically reshape the way our favorite fitness apparel comes to life.

“We believe this platform has the potential to reset the way we think about material and apparel," says Aaron Heiser, VP of Global Apparel Product Merchandising. "This is the biggest Nike apparel innovation since Dri-Fit 30 years ago and has huge potential to transform the industry in the way that Air and Flyknit did for Nike footwear.”

What is Nike Forward?

The fibers contained within Nike Forward are turned directly into textile through an ultra-futuristic and reductive needle-punching process, similar to needle punches used in the automotive and medical spaces. This practice, which Nike took over five years to research and develop, helps reduce the amount of steps needed to achieve the end product. Fewer steps mean less energy consumption — Nike Forward's carbon footprint shows an average of 75% reduction when compared to traditional knit fleece.

Nike Forward has a lighter density than traditional fleece, which also aids in shrinking the material's environmental impact. The lightweight nature allows the Nike Forward collection to utilize multiple ultra-thin layers to achieve a variety of functions like warmth or softness. According to the brand, the inaugural collection will contain a Therma-FIT ADV layer for added warmth without unnecessary weight, just in time for those fall training circuits.

What are the Sustainable Features of This All-New Material?

Outside of the breakthrough manufacturing process, the Nike Forward collection also highlight's the brand's focus on sustainability through the use of raw edge pockets, exposed seams and other intentional design choices. The inaugural collection will also forego any embellishments like zippers, aglets or extra trims to allow for easier recycling processes in the future.

While the first Nike Forward pieces will be composed of 70% recycled content by weight using the same recycled polyester featured throughout the brand's offerings, Nike states the sourced materials could potentially include industrial and post-consumer waste in the future.

product image of nike hooded sweatshirt
product image of nike crewneck sweatshirt

Which Pieces Will Be Available (And When)?

For the first iteration of the Nike Forward lineup, the innovation will lean on a bit of timeless style. Nike Forward will make its debut in two of the brand's most beloved sport-inspired silhouettes: the iconic grey Hoodie and Crew sweatshirt styles. Nike adds that while the inaugural collection is limited for now, there's plenty of opportunity to include the material in future offerings, much like how Flyknit started with just two shoe silhouettes and is now prevalent across the brand’s footwear and apparel platforms.

Nike Forward Hoodie and Crew styles are set to release globally on September 15. Mark your calendars, as it appears the fitness apparel industry is in for quite a revolution later this month.


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