Gallery: Nike’s Virtually Seamless “Flyknit” Sneaker is Part Shoe, Part So...

Nike's newest innovation isn't so novel your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it. In fact, the sportswear giant employed an age-old technique to solve a modern conundrum: how to create a lightweight shoe that fits like a sock but has the support of a trainer. Its Flyknit sneaker, which will debut in time for the London Olympics, uses both flat and circular knitting technologies to create a featherweight, formfitting, and virtually seamless upper. Even with Kevlar-reinforced filaments knitted in for structure, the upper and tongue weigh only 1.2 ounces. The entire shoe clocks in at an impressive 5.6 ounces for a size 9—19 percent lighter than the Nike Zoom Streak 3 worn by the first-, second-, and third-place athletes in the 2011 World Championships men's marathon.


A concept four years in the making, the Flyknit required teams of programmers, engineers, and designers to develop the specialized upper, which was inspired by runners who wanted a shoe that hugged the contours of the foot like a second skin. A pliable material like yarn has no structure or durability, however, which means the same qualities that make a sock so desirable are impractical for a running upper.

The shoe was inspired by runners who wanted a shoe that hugged the contours of the foot like a second skin.

Nike couldn’t just stitch a tube sock to a sole; it had to map out a precise framework of knit and cabled structures to provide the necessary support, flexibility, and breathability in a single layer. Because the one-piece upper doesn’t use multiple materials and cuts that traditional footwear demands, the Flyknit also has the additional benefit of reducing waste. “Nike Flyknit is truly a minimalist design with maximum return,” a spokesperson says.

Mark Parker, Nike’s president and CEO, says the shoe will revolutionize the running world. And well, we’re inclined to believe him.

+ Flyknit

+ Nike

[Via Fast Company]

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