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Ins and outs of Nike’s revolutionary flyknit apparel


Leading sportswear brand Nike has used its trademark knitted material to develop a new performance bra, based on the company’s famous Flyknit construction technology, which has described as its “biggest Flyknit apparel innovation yet”.

It helps hold shape of the bra while facilitating precise zones of greater or less support and breathability. According to the manufacturer, the technology enables designers to engineer every stitch for specific performance benefits. “Nike Flyknit allows us to be incredibly precise in a single layer,” said Janett Nichol, VP of Apparel Innovation, Nike. The bra also retains the ability to cup each breast individually, while maintaining compression during exercise

flyknit (2)The right sports bra can be the difference between a kickass workout and no workout at all. Janett Nichol said “It is the most important piece of apparel for the active woman – a good one enables women to play sports, and sports can give women confidence in life”. The Nike Women design team asked athletes about what makes a good bra. The response was coinstantaneous, with women wanting a bra that provides total support for a variety of activities and one that keeps them cool and dry without sacrificing comfort. “They also want it to look as good as it feels,” the company reports.

To determine how to best use the technology the engineers and designers went to work and putting in more than 600 hours of rigorous biometric testing, including motion capture and creating atlas maps where through motion capture and digital body scans, the design team assessed heat, sweat, cooling and movement areas on the body, and adapted the knit to optimally perform for all factors.

flyknit (3)Atlas maps aren’t new to Nike, this was the first time the team used them to inform how they should build a sports bra. Rather than using just one map (which is typical to the way most product is created), designers combined three atlas maps ­—cooling, breathability and support — to determine how to conceive the Nike Flyknit pattern and designers also reference these maps when deciding what patterns to knit and materials to use.

Bra construction

The bra is constructed with an ultra-soft nylon-spandex yarn that form fits to the body, using Two single-layer panels that are assembled for a seamless feel. This Flyknit process also enabled designers to combine encapsulation (which have separate cups for each breast) with compression (which holds the breasts close to the body), offering the shape, support and comfort without the addition of components like wires, pads, stabilizers and elastics.


This enabled Nike to cut down the amount of components from 41 pieces and 22 seams found in some of its other sports bras, to two single-layer panels and a binding.

Reducing the number of seams is intended to improve comfort, and the overall weight of the bra is lowered by 30 per cent compared to all others in Nike’s line.


flyknitThe Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra is a new generation of bra,” says Rendone. “It offers all of the support, strength and comfort of traditional high-support bras even without all of the components typical to those styles, and it’s full-coverage for total confidence during any activity, from running to high-intensity training, boxing to spin, Pilates and yoga.” Perhaps the most exciting result of bringing Nike Flyknit technology to a sports bra is that it opens a massive door for innovation across apparel. “This is bigger than a bra, really,” says Nichol. “It’s about breaking down the barriers women face in sports and life.”

Nike bra collection

Nike is launching three other new bras this season for 30 total styles – its most expansive bra collection to date. Sizing will span from 32 A to 38 E, and will offer light-, medium- and high-support options.

With so much choice, one simple way to determine what bra is best for you is to take your size and sport to indicate the level of support you need. “Be sure to consider style and comfort as well,” said Rendone. “Because in the end, the right bra is the one that makes you feel confident and capable no matter what your workout is.”

Flyknit was first introduced for the London 2012 Olympics, and has since been purposed for athletics shoes and casual trainers, as well as drum skins and seating upholstery.

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