Nike Unveils Its Big New Paradigm: Shoes Knit Like Sock

THE NEW FLYKNIT SHOE WAS THE PRODUCT OF FOUR YEARS OF R&D, WHICH YIELDED NEW MACHINES FOR A FABRICATION TECHNIQUE THAT NEVER EXISTED BEFORE.

When most of us think about what we want in a shoe, a sock probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Sure it has comfort, but what about stability? And how about some support?

Nike is filling in those blanks with its newest line, Nike Flyknit, which will make its big splash in the Olympics. Four years in the making, Flyknit is the product of an entirely new shoe-making process that can produce a single, lightweight knit upper (tongue included). The resulting intricate patchwork of yarn, cables, and fabric boasts a heretofore unseen look and feel.

Flyknit was powered by athletes’ input, says Tony Bignell, director of footwear innovation at Nike’s Innovation Kitchen. And what they wanted, head-scratchingly enough, was a sock. “A sock fits great, feels snug, goes unnoticed, and you get no irritation,” Bignell explains.“So the idea was, how do you engineer a sock into a high-performance shoe?”

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