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Nike 2020 Forum NYFW
Nike 2020 Forum NYFW

Nike just unveiled its most sustainable sneakers ever

The pioneering sportswear brand debuted collections for the Tokyo Olympics, collabs with Virgil Abloh, Alyx, and Undercover, and some of its most eco-friendly products ever at its 2020 forum in NY

From introducing plus-sized mannequins in its flagship stores and continuing to explore ways to become more sustainable, to diversifying its already innovative line-up of products, Nike is blazing a trail in the world of sports right now – with the brand’s international forum, which took place in New York this week, serving to hammer the message home. 

With the likes of Drake, Rosalía, A$AP Rocky, Martine Rose, Samuel Ross, Adwoa Aboah, Virgil Abloh, and legendary basketball player Michael Jordan all in attendance, alongside a bunch of Nike’s key ambassadors, the forum was a way for the brand to boldly present exactly what was to come in the year ahead, with talks surrounding its sustainability efforts and impact on the planet, product reveals, and announcements as to its 2020 Tokyo Olympics intentions all on the line-up. Needless to say: it was a pretty inspiring place to be.  

Here’s everything you need to know. 

SOME OF FASHION’S BIGGEST NAMES ARE WORKING ON OLYMPIC COLLECTIONS

...including Yoon Ahn of AMBUSH©, Jun Takahashi of Undercover, Chitose Abe of sacai, Matthew Williams of ALYX, and Virgil Abloh. With a select few pieces from each capsule making their debut at the event, highlights included a jacket with an actual fan in the back, and sneaker inspired by two new sports on the Olympics line-up – speed rock climbing and skateboarding, FYI – both of which came courtesy of Abloh. “He told me he wanted to make them so good they’re meant to be banned,” explained one of the designers who worked on the shoe alongside Abloh after they were revealed. Elsewhere, Matthew Williams’ clothing line was inspired by rocket ships, John Chamberlain sculptures, and the Nike Alpha: needless to say, the offering was pretty futuristic. 

BUT IT WASN’T JUST ESTABLISHED DESIGNERS DEBUTING CLOTHING

...with Grace Ladoja taking on the task of designing the Nigerian Olympic football team’s 2020 uniform. Instead of casting models, Nike also opted to debut the rest of its Olympic kits on its family of athletes, including Caster Semenya, Nafi Thiam, Joan Benoit, and a host of Paralympic stars.  

THE BRAND PRESENTED SOME OF ITS MOST SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS EVER

The fact that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be the hottest on record has been a big hurdle for Nike in the lead-up to the event, and there was a lot of talk of ‘futureproofing’ sport. “When we talk to athletes they just want space to play and air to breathe,” says John Hoke, Nike’s chief design officer. “The climate emergency is shifting how people train, compete, and participate in sports, and we want to make sure we’re futureproofing them for the next generation, in turn becoming more sustainable as a brand.”   

Innovative products born from extensive research and development include the Nike USA team’s medal suits, which are made solely from recycled materials (including ground-up sneakers) and emphasise the brand’s commitment to creating a circular economy. The suits themselves were inspired by the medals that will be given out at the Olympics closing ceremony, which are set to be made from old cell phone parts. Like we said: sustainability is big for 2020 (and beyond, obvs).  

NIKE UNVEILED THE SPACE HIPPIE: ITS MOST SUSTAINABLE SHOE EVER

...which is literally made from Nike’s own ‘space junk’ (think scraps of waste fabrics, rubber footwear, and more). Going into development over two years ago, the largely Flyknit sneaker is made up of 25 per cent recycled t-shirts, 25 per cent textile scraps, and 50 per cent recycled polyester shredded and blended together. “The inspiration was looking at the legacy of sustainable innovations Nike had, and exploring how we push them. It was really challenging. Flyknit is very efficient and creates very little waste, and the air base found in all Nike Air sneakers is completely recycled. We wanted to make something circular at its core. It was about diverting something from going to waste,” explains Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, Nike’s sustainable design lead, of the show.