Decoding Design

Nike unveils latest shoe: Ultra-lightweight, knit like a sock

Nike unveils latest shoe: Ultra-lightweight, knit like a sock

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Nike recently unveiled its new high-performance running shoe, inspired by the light-weight knit and fabric of a normal sock, but with structure and support built-in.

Nike's been busy lately, with the release of both the new Nike+ technology and the creation of a running sole for amputee runners. Now, the running shoe giant has unveiled something else new: The Flyknit.

After four years of research, the company developed machines for a fabrication technique that until now didn't exist. The new process can produce a single, lightweight knit shoe, tongue included.

The resulting design looks like wool socks, but in a sturdy, performance-oriented shoe.

The new process, says Nike, "revolutionizes running by rethinking shoe construction from the ground up, informed by athlete insights and employing a new proprietary technology."

The yarns and fabrics used are engineered "only where they are needed" to make a lightweight, form-fitting and seamless upper. The support is simply knit into the design.

Because there is no extra structure needed, the Flyknit Racer's (intended for professional athletes) upper and tongue weigh just 34 grams, or about 1.2 ounces. The whole shoe, sole included, weighs just 160 grams (5.6 ounces) for a size 9, 19 percent lighter than the Nike Zoom Streak 3, which was worn by the runners who took first, second and third places in the men's marathon at the 2011 World Championships.

The Flyknit shoes are engineered to feel like a second skin, and even the everyday running shoe that came out of the project (the Nike Flyknit Trainer+) only weighs 7.7 ounces.

The Flyknit will debut just in time for the London Olympics this summer, and will be worn by marathoners from the United States, Kenya, Russia and the U.K.  Nike will also be releasing a streetwear version of the shoe called the HTM Flyknit, a collaboration between Nike and stylist Hiroshi Fujiwara.

Watch the video from Nike below:

[Co.Design]
Images: Nike

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Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure