- Nike Sportswear footwear designer Nathan Van Hook discusses the design and manufacturing process behind the latest NSW trainer
How is it possible for a mainstream sportswear brand to also be a leading force in design development and technology innovation? How is a global conglomerate able to attract the masses and trend setting fashion industry insiders as well? Well, in Nike’s case, it’s due to the superiority of its Sportswear range. The premium line of trainers and apparel is as comfortable in high-end fashion boutiques as it is on the streets. It’s ticket into such stores? Never-ending innovation and strong design trademarks. The Sportswear line does not compromise on quality and it’s constantly pushing its boundaries in a way that, I’m sure, many luxe fashion labels eye up jealously.Truth of the matter is that the kind of clothing Nike SW makes is what people wear generally – and if you’re able to take that concept and make a more luxurious version of it while still retaining your core customer base, you are most definitely on to something. Case in point, the Nike Inneva trainer. Hand-woven and with a new lacing system that help adjust its fit and keep it in place, the trainer perfectly fits in with the Sportswear line’s DNA. Its aerodynamic shape gives the trainer a subtle silhouette, and the weave allows for the trainer and foot to merge into one. The Inneva was partly put together by Nathan Van Hook, working in the Footwear Design department at Nike Sportswear, and we spoke to him about the ins and outs of crafting the trainer.
- David Hellqvist: How was the concept developed?
Nathan Van Hook: Nike has a long history of experimenting with woven techniques. This history goes all the way back to 2000 when we released the Nike Air Woven and even before with many other iterations and prototypes. The concept behind the Nike Inneva came from our obsession with finding new ways to improve fit and comfort. We looked at woven as the ideal technology but we wanted to maximize its potential. With the Nike Inneva, we looked for a way to create footwear that could have an almost custom fit by trying to create a woven shoe with an integrated lacing system that would synch or lock the foot into place when pulled for a snug fit on the foot.
David: What technique, skills and craftsmanship lie behind it?
Nathan: The Nike Inneva is as much about craft as it is about fit. It’s hand woven using nylon webbing and soft premium leathers for a comfortable feel. The great thing about hand weaving is that there is reduced waste in the making of a shoe. Once you cut one piece of webbing, you have the start another.
David: What are the problematic sections, solutions, moments in making it?
Nathan: The problem we encountered was how to integrate eye stays for the dynamic lacing fit system that would synch when pulled and conform to the foot. We found a solution in using wider strips of webbing that would provide support on the medial and lateral saddle on the foot while the laces could be threaded into loops that provide an eye stay system that is unique to the Nike Inneva. Also we noticed by integrating varying degrees of tight and loose woven applications, we could increase breathability in the areas in the foot where it is most needed. For instance, the tighter knit in the vamp over the toes provides a more breathable zone that adds to the comfort.David: What makes them special?
Nathan: With the Nike Inneva, each piece is hand woven with precision and skill. The dynamic lacing system allows for a personalized fit while premium materials allow for a soft and malleable upper that is constantly moving with the foot. It’s extremely lightweight while Nike Free technology works to compliment the sensation of natural motion perfectly for the wearer. Also there is near to no waste in the creation of the woven upper, The Nike Inneva Woven has only what is needed, and nothing more The Nike Inneva looks the way it does because of the innovation used to develop each element of its construction. It’s craft defined by innovation.Photography
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