Nike is taking the use of raw materials a step forward by way of a new recycling process and material it calls Flyleather.
How will Nike continue to provide the look and feel of premium leather that has styled so many of its iconic silhouettes while at the same time reducing its carbon footprint? The answer is Flyleather, the most recent in a line of innovations Nike has rolled out over the last few years. Nike has dubbed the new Flyleather a “super material” with the potential to be as game-changing as Nike Flyknit.
The reasoning behind such a bold statement from Nike can be answered by examining the manufacturing process of Flyleather. According to Nike, the material will utilize at least 50% recycled natural leather fibers and fuse them into one material with synthetic leather fibers and fabric through a hydro process.
The natural leather used comes from discarded scraps of cow hide, of which up to 30% is wasted on average. Nike has collected the scraps from the floors of tanneries and turned them into fibers for fusing process.
From a performance perspective, Flyleather has tested to be 40% lighter and five times more durable than traditional and full-grain leathers (based on abrasion testing), according to Nike, which opens the doors to a more elastic material that will compare easily with modern materials Nike has utilized recently.
“Similar to what Nike Flyknit did for knit, Nike Flyleather can do for leather,” said John Hoke, Nike Chief Design Officer, in a statement. “New technologies and platforms allow us to get closer to working at the molecular level. Flyleather is the latest example of this, and is particularly exciting because it allows for increased potential to extend our craft with more precision. This means opportunity for greater strength, support, elasticity and so on, based on the needs of specific sports.”
According to Tony Bignell, Nike VP of Footwear Innovation, leather materials may make a complete return to certain performance categories such as Nike Basketball. While leather was featured prominently on basketball models through the ’90s, the raw material is rarely used on performance sneakers today — but Flyleather may change that.
Performance aspirations aside, Nike seems most excited about the opportunity to reduce carbon footprint. “The earth is the athlete’s biggest playground, so one of our greatest opportunities is to create breakthrough products while protecting our planet,” said Hannah Jones, Nike Chief Sustanability Officer/VP of the Innovation Accelerator, in a statement. “Nike Flyleather is an important step toward ensuring athletes always have a place to enjoy sport.”
Nike Flyleather will make its debut on the Nike Flyleather Tennis Classic SE, made in Oregon, which releases today, September 18, in limited quantities at Nike.com and at the Nike SoHo store, NikeLab 21 Mercer, and Dover Street Market in NYC. No price has been announced.
According to Nike, this limited edition of the Tennis Classic features texture inspired by Nike’ Safari print, a digitally printed rose gold Swoosh, and metallic gold lace tips and deubrés. The Flyleather Tennis Classic SE will be seen in New York during Climate Week NYC 2017, and U.S. residents can enter to win a pair between now and September 30 by clicking here.
Flyleather will be featured on upcoming models including the Air Force 1, Air Max 90, Cortez, and Jordan 1.
For more details on sustainability and performance, take a look at the below infographic. Let us know if you are excited about Nike’s newest innovation down in the comments.