Nike’s recent Tech Fleece Collection is a range of staple garments such as the hoodie and sweatshirt which has been striped back and given ultra-modern, technological updates. To help celebrate the launch our friends over at Hypebeast got together with Lee Holman, Vice President of Apparel Design for NIKE, Inc., to talk about their revolutionary reinvention.
When you can’t solve a problem with available technology, do you take it upon yourselves to create that technology?
At Nike, we have innovation design teams that are devoted to working on innovations for the next 5 to 10 years. These innovation designers work together with our category designers to problem solve around the athlete. In apparel, we always start with the fabric because that is where our innovation comes from. When there is a new fabrication that we can work with, our designers are able to start creating prototypes from the yarn of that fabric. Our entire design team, even the teams that are involved with the color aspect, are collectively involved with the conversation throughout the process.
How do you incorporate new innovations into new products?
Innovating around the needs of athletes and consumers is key. In some cases we look outside of the product’s specific sport for ideas, which makes us ask ourselves pertinent questions. What you’ll find is the technology used in one sport can be transferred and used in another. This is also applicable in daily life. When you start looking at everyday consumers, making things functional to meet their everyday needs is also a top priority.
What’s the inspiration behind the Tech Fleece collection?
I wanted to come up with a new aesthetic around fleece, and when I saw surfers in Portland wearing wetsuits I really liked the clean approach. The flat over-lock we used is taken from a wetsuit but I also wanted to take from the elements of Portland, it’s a really rural place and I wanted to bring that aesthetic into the city. I was thinking about what people want if they are traveling around the city like the media pockets for phones or something that keeps you warm — some of these pieces can be worn as outerwear. I call it “indoor outerwear” because for a lot of people fleece is now worn as outerwear. The aesthetics and style of the product share an equal importance in terms of equipping athletes with confidence. If you are feeling great when you walk out onto the pitch, or even onto the street, and you are supported by all this technology and innovation, chances are you are going to perform to a high level.