Nike's Flyknit Racer has been lauded as a game-changing invention.
But it's not the shoe itself, which hit stores last July, that's disrupting the industry. It's the method used to make them.
Unlike traditional shoes, which are stitched together from individual components, the upper section of a Flyknit is made in one piece, using polyester yarns and cables that are threaded together. It is, essentially, a shoe knit like a sock.
Nike CEO Mark Parker expects the technology behind the Flyknit to be a big part of the company's future. He's keen on using it in other lines beyond running shoes, wrote Fast Company's Austin Carr in a profile of Nike's latest big innovations.
"You'll see it in other sport categories beyond running — basketball, tennis, football, soccer — basically any category," Parker told the Oregonian last year. "Because we can actually modify the yarns and knit structures to actually work at a very high level for any sport."
Nike is betting big on the new technology. It has built an entirely new manufacturing process around the Flyknit, according to Carr.
"Does this change our business model in some cases, or our supply chain? Absolutely," Parker told Fast Company.
For Nike, it's a gigantic gamble.
After all, Nike is such a dominant force in athletic shoes. It has overwhelming market share in certain segments — 92 percent in basketball shoes, for instance.
"Flyknit is a platform," Nike VP of sustainability Hannah Jones told Fast Company. "We're reimagining the upper, the bottoms — the whole caboodle."
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