As Nike (NKE) gears up for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the global sportswear giant’s footwear offerings, like its newest apparel line, highlight not only sustainability but performance technology.
The line was unveiled last night at an event at New York City’s Hudson Yards, which was packed with some of the biggest names in the sports, fashion and entertainment worlds, including Drake, Travis Scott, designer Virgil Abloh, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, as well as new Nike CEO John Donahoe.
UBS analyst Jay Sole called the event and line-up a “big hit” that could boost the stock. “The amount of innovation in this assortment is as high as we can remember,” Sole wrote in a note to clients.
He also noted that sustainability “is an increasingly big theme, which is not only driving sales, but also cost savings. We think the revenue around the Games (Nike's 1Q21) could surprise the market and catalyze the stock,” he said.
“In the past, the market would know a big sales bump was ahead because Nike's futures growth would accelerate,” he said. “The key is Nike doesn't disclose futures anymore. So, the market might get caught by surprise if the sales growth rate jumps, particularly since the 2016 Games were a not a big catalyst.”
Here’s a look at the Swoosh brand’s shoe line-up for Tokyo 2020.
Perhaps the most talked-about shoe in Nike’s Olympic footwear line will be the successor to its controversial Nike Alphafly 4%, Flyknit: the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%. The original shoe was famously worn by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya when he became the first person ever to run a sub-two-hour marathon.
The shoe’s advanced tech, such as its curved carbon fiber plate, sparked a debate within the running community with some wondering if the shoe was giving its runners an unfair and unnatural advantage. Sports governing body World Athletics fielded calls to have the shoe banned from international competition — a bullet that has been dodged by the Swoosh brand. The updated Alphafly combines foam, carbon fiber, and Nike Zoom technology.
“It’s just the next step in the process of, you know, helping to help athletes break records. And so, you know, by adding the zoom puck under the ball, the foot at the first and fifth metatarsal head, it lets the athlete get more of a cushion response, which helps their efficiency and breaks down fatigue,” Nike Chief Design Officer John Hoke told Yahoo Finance.
“What really matters for athletes, and as they break records, it’s usually in the last minutes or seconds of a run. So if we can protect this athlete for 25 miles and get that athlete ready for the last mile not to decelerate, but to accelerate to the tape we’ve done our job.”
The price point for the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% has yet to be released, but if the previous model, which retailed for $250, is any indication, the newer shoe would follow the same price point.
Nike will also offer a new running model made for everyday runners called the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%, which provides much of the same tech as the Alphafly NEXT% but tuned for everyday training. It will retail for $200.
New versions of track spikes will also make their debut in Tokyo: Nike Air Zoom Victory and Nike Zoom Viperfly. The Victory model will feature Nike ZoomX foam in the midsole along with the carbon fiber plate, with the addition of the welded Zoom Air bag in the forefoot and an updated lacing system. The Viperfly model, which is made for the 100m, features many of the same features as the Victor, but adds an Atomknit upper knit in a shape to decrease the material waste in the heel.
Nike’s new Space Hippie shoe uses what it calls “space junk,” scrap materials from the brand’s factory floors to make a unique, sustainable design. The yarn that is used for the Space Hippie Flyknit is at least 85% made from recycled plastic water bottles, T-shirts, and other yarn scraps. The shoes will also include what Nike refers to as “Crater Foam,” which is made from 15% Nike Grind rubber and is combined with 100% recycled ZoomX foam scraps for a more sustainable, lightweight, and responsive feel, according to Nike. These shoes will be worn by medal winners on the podium.
Nike Air Vapormax 2020
When Nike athletes make the podium at the 2020 games, they will don some of the company’s lowest-impact footwear. Nike Air Vapormax 2020 features a recycled-polyester Flyknit upper combined with Nike’s ease of entry FlyEase technology.
Now that Skateboarding is an official Olympic sport, Nike’s skaters will be wearing the Bruin Zoom X or the Bruin React. The Bruin Zoom X sports a 4% inspired insole with flyplate, and the Bruin React will include a Zonal herringbone traction pattern.
Nike soccer athletes will sport the Air Zoom Mercurial. The boot features a full-length articulated Zoom Airbag, which, according to Nike, provides a unique underfoot sensation and enhanced energy return by transitioning the chassis of the boot to its plate.
For the hardwood, Nike is introducing the Nike Air Zoom BB that is designed to allow players to carry less weight and get energy back with every step. The model features React foam, which is placed under the heel to give the athletes a more responsive sensation. Two Air Zoom units are placed under the ball of the foot to absorb the athlete’s energy continually, then return it to help minimize fatigue.
Nike Chief Design Officer John Hoke tells Yahoo Finance that the company works hand in hand with its athletes when advancing the technology in its products.
“I like to think that it is a 50/50 partnership between the athlete, their ambitions and their needs and Nike design, our curiosity, our ambition, and how we want to change the face of sports.”
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.