The Moment: Thursday afternoon, at the Manhattan event space known as Skylight at Moynihan Station, Nike unveiled its team uniforms for the 2016 Olympics with all the fanfare of, well, the Olympics. This was meant to be the highlight of a two-day innovation summit, the grand reveal of its colorful gear for track and field, soccer, basketball, and all those other summer sports, but it was hard to compete with another one of Nike’s new designs – a pair of shoes that lace themselves.
More on those in a moment.
First the uniforms. Nike had created a display of the designs for several nations in a large, circular room, with a live orchestra at its center, surrounded by a running track. Editors and photographers were stationed inside the ring for quite a while before the orchestra started up with some stirring music, after which athletes from Brazil, China, Germany, and the United States modeled their various goods, walking around the circle three times. It was a little weird. Basketball player Kevin Durant looked sheepish, even though Nike had just introduced its latest shoe design for him, the KD9, which are rather dazzling, mostly black, but with patches of multi-color knit and reflective accents that are as luminescent as fish scales (below). Elena Delle Donna, in USA’s white basketball uniform, looked far more at ease on the runway (both pictured, above).
Nike’s new uniforms are dashing as well, with an emphasis on bolder, saturated colors, varied from sport to sport. Team USA’s look was represented by a group of very blue singlets, compression shorts, and bikini bottoms, with a subtle design detail of concentric rings that radiate from the neckline like ripples in water. The designs were similar for other countries, but in different colors: green for Brazil, red for Qatar. It happens to be a look that is flattering to the chest, either that, or Germany’s javelin thrower Thomas Röhler is really hot.
And this being the Olympics, there were, naturally, some oddities, like the Croatian soccer uniforms that look like checkered flags mutated with a hashtag, but maybe that’s a defense mechanism (below).
Why It’s a Wow: With the Olympics less than five months away, the unveiling of Nike’s colorful uniforms marks the beginning of what will likely be many fashion stories related to the games – not to mention all those wacky opening ceremony outfits we can’t wait to see. And while Nike’s sport designs were sharp, so were its other innovations, like soccer cleats that supposedly don’t clog, and super light Nike Air Vapormax Flyknit shoes that eliminate lots of things I don’t fully understand.
But the big news, of course, is the Nike Hyperadapt 1.0, a shoe that laces itself. As soon as you put them on, they automatically constrict to create a custom fit (there are buttons, too, to adjust them as tight as you like). In effect, Nike is bringing to reality the self-lacing shoes worn by Marty McFly in the second installment of Back to the Future, only these look more cool than futuristic. Plus, the soles light up.
Learn more: Go to Nike.com to peruse the latest designs introduced this week, some of which will be available beginning this summer. As for the self-lacing shoes, you’ll have to wait until late this year, when they ship as part of Nike’s holiday collection.