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Nike ACG Iceland

How tech and glacial field trips are igniting a new era at Nike ACG

Showing the ultimate dedication to testing, ACG’s design director and head of innovation at Nike explain why technology, athletic insights, and Iceland are paving the way for the collection’s future

Nike ACG is a label steeped in history. If you like technical clothes and use Instagram, you'll probably have come across an account (or three) dedicated to worshipping at the altar, and archive, of ACG. 

But the people that steer this function-first ship, from its designers to heads of innovation, don’t rest on said history. There’s always been a commitment to driving ACG forward. Now, Nike is doing so by equipping this grail-worthy outdoor gear with FIT ADV.

Not familiar with Nike FIT (Functional Innovative Technology)? It first arrived in 1991, introduced to revolutionise sportswear and athlete apparel by keeping bodies comfortable in pretty much any condition, from downpours and storms to freezing temperatures. It so happens, then, that FIT’s upgraded ADV form is the perfect match for All Conditions Gear.

That name is taken very seriously by all at ACG. So seriously, that they invite the team involved in product creation to extreme environments to make sure their work stands up. Boasting impressive dedication to both research and testing, Dazed talked to some of the ACG team to learn how the environment and tech are being united to take the Nike label with a cult following into a new era. 

EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS

“Each season we start with a field trip to a place that has the conditions we’re designing for,” Nur Abbas, design director at Nike ACG tells Dazed. “This location-based research means we get a first hand experience of extreme environments.” Pre-pandemic, the team ventured to Iceland, a place known for its unrelentingly harsh weather, to put three separate capabilities to the test; Dri-FIT ADV to keep you cool, Therma-FIT ADV to keep you warm, and Storm-FIT ADV, to the test. 

“Iceland is rich in inspiration, from its geology to its climate, and we wanted that storytelling to be felt in the collection,” Nur continues. “The Lunar Lake jacket, which has seven layers of insulation, for instance, was born out of this visceral, environmental experience. It’s so important to get a real understanding of what our user needs in such conditions, whether that’s Therma-FIT for warmth or Storm-FIT for ultimate protection.”

DIGGING INTO THE ACG ARCHIVE

The futuristic tech of FIT-ADV is certainly impressive. But ACG is also stanned for its back catalogue, particularly so at a time when archive digging continues to blow up. “When ACG arrived 30 years ago, it really was at the cutting edge. I think that’s why there’s such a love for the archive pieces still,” Nur explains. 

“What we’re doing now, in terms of innovation, is the same as those designers were doing back then. The only difference is the technology and level of athlete data. ACG has an amazing history and we want to ensure we live up to its legacy of keeping one eye on the future.” 

THE FUTURE OF FUNCTIONALITY

But where does this innovation begin? And who’s driving it into the future? “Maybe it’s a conversation with an athlete or meeting machines with capabilities we never imagined,” Janett Nichol, VP of apparel innovation at Nike, tells Dazed. “But the Nike Research Lab is continually uncovering new and exciting things. Leveraging deep athlete insights allows us to re-engineer our clothing across the board.”

That perpetual search for perfect product manifests itself in the new, FIT ADV-packing ACG collection. Explaining why adding new technology to such a storied line of outdoor wear makes sense, Janett explains, “In the past, FIT used to sit under performance only. Now, we want to dimensionalise this tech to make it applicable to all users. Whether you’re taking your first steps in training or you’re competing at elite level, we want to help athletes break barriers by pushing the boundaries of innovation, across the spectrum.”

Explore the ACG collection via Nike.com