Nike & Stone Island: Year of the Windrunner

Joe Serino, vice president of sportswear apparel at Nike, explains why 2016 is the perfect year to launch a specialist Stone Island Windrunner collaboration

Image courtesy of Nike
Image courtesy of Nike

It’s not often that you see two technical heavyweights, such as Nike and Stone Island, combining forces. More often than not, it’s a smaller niche brand collaborating with a more well-known brand that is an expert in its field of apparel or footwear. Nike and Stone Island are equally famed for technical and innovative designs, so in the case of the collaborative Windrunner, both brands bring that knowledge and expertise to the table. The result is an even more elevated product: a classic silhouette reconstructed with the highest specifics in modern-day technology. As Joe Serino, vice president of sportswear apparel at Nike, says: “Nike’s culture thrives on collaboration.”

Nike is calling 2016 is the ‘Year of the Windrunner’, marking a celebration of its most revered piece of apparel to date; the Windrunner is a jacket that has felt the touch of gold medals and broken records alike. Since it was first manufactured and designed in the late 1970s, the Windrunner has stood the test of time and has remained largely unchanged until now, with the help of Bologna-based Stone Island. Here, we speak to Serino about the inspiration behind what is, arguably, Nike’s most technologically advanced piece of athletics apparel created to date.

Image courtesy of Nike
Image courtesy of Nike

What brought about this collaboration?

A successful collaboration should help both parties achieve something they may not have been able to on their own. We partnered with Stone Island for exactly this reason. We saw an opportunity to blend our sport style design with Stone Island’s craft, technical material development and dyeing expertise. The result is a jacket that is instantly recognisable as both Nike and Stone Island — it’s one that we believe will resonate quite well with fans of either brand.

What does the classic Windrunner jacket mean to Nike?

The Nike Windrunner is arguably our most important apparel icon. Of course, it was part of our first apparel line more than two decades ago, so there’s an element of nostalgia there. But perhaps more significant is the fact that the silhouette seems to transcend sport and style trends.

It’s been in the line off and on since its debut in the early 1980s and, in that time, it’s proven to be a worthy canvas for collaboration and material innovation. The latest examples are the Stone Island and sacai interpretations, but the Windrunner has also employed some of our leading material innovations over the years, such as Nike Tech Fleece and Nike Aeroloft. It has also appeared on the medal stand in the last two summer Olympic Games.

What do you admire about Stone Island?

The collaboration has been rather seamless, partly because we share a number of product values with Stone Island. I think the most important ones are our mutual obsession with functionality and delivering consumer benefits. We are both committed to creating apparel that performs at the highest level. Of course, it’s no secret that Stone Island is an industry leader when it comes to creating technical materials and dyeing. The way it achieves such brilliant colours through garment dyeing on its unique fabrics is quite remarkable. So we were eager to tap into that expertise, as the company has 30-plus years of knowhow in this area.

Image courtesy of Nike
Image courtesy of Nike

Did you think about creating a new silhouette as well reworking the Windrunner?

We are calling 2016 the ‘Year of the Windrunner’ to honour the rich heritage of our apparel icon. We’re also honouring track and field during what will be an important year for the sport, as the first iteration of the Windrunner was created to keep runners protected in wet climates. So currently, our focus is on this silhouette. We’re excited to work with Stone Island and sacai to kick off the celebration, and, while each partnership has resulted in a unique interpretation of the jacket, both have served to advance its legacy.

Nike aims to really push the boundaries of technical sports apparel. How far do you see that going and what can we expect from Nike this year?

I can’t speak to anything specifically that’s coming this year. But I can tell you that we will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible. We will focus on our most iconic sport style silhouettes and create newer and better versions for today’s demanding consumer.

NikeLab was created for us to add dimension to our brand and we intend on repeatedly pursuing innovation through collaborations and debuting these products in distinct environments.

After all, when we innovate, we don’t think about limits. Nike’s culture thrives on collaboration — not only with external partners such as Stone Island, but also amongst our own community of more than 650 designers.

When you bring great minds together, creativity rules and the possibilities are endless.

The NikeLab x Stone Island Windrunner jacket is available now at select NikeLab retailers and online