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Nike crochets its way to running performance with Flyknit shoes


February 24, 2012

The Nike Flyknits incorporate engineered yarn uppers

The Nike Flyknits incorporate engineered yarn uppers

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Nike has been busy showcasing new innovations this week. One of the most interesting is the new Flyknit shoes, lightweight runners that look like a wraparound blanket for your feet. Nike says the shoes are like a "second skin."

For several years, footwear manufacturers of all kinds have been expanding minimalist shoe options. Minimalism is typically focused on the sole of the shoe, where cushioning and materials are cut down to provide a more natural step. Essentially, these shoes give you just enough material to protect you from cuts and injury while staying out of the way of your bio-mechanics.

With the Flyknits, Nike extends minimalistic design to the upper part of the shoe. The single-layer uppers give you material only in places that you need it, cutting weight when compared to the thicker uppers of other shoes. The entire upper and tongue weigh just 1.2 oz (34 grams), while an entire size 9 shoe weighs 5.6 oz (160 g). Nike says the Flyknits are 19 percent lighter than its Zoom Streak 3, a shoe worn by the first, second and third place finishers in the 2011 World Championships men's marathon.

Flyknits are not quite as minimal as Swiss Protection Socks, but the motivation was the same. Nike developed the Flyknit design based around input from runners that yearned for a shoe with the lightweight fit of a sock. Nike says that it spent four years developing the proper application of lightweight, pliable knit material with the solid, stable properties necessary for a shoe. Unlike regular sock material, which wouldn't provide enough support or durability to serve as a shoe, Nike's micro-engineered knit uppers reportedly give athletes the light, form-fitting feel of a sock with enough rigidity to support the foot and hold up to repeated use.

Nike analyzed the needs of runners and engineered specific areas of the upper to give runners flex, support and breathability where they need it. Given its hole-filled, single-layer construction, we'd expect that it will be cooler on long summer runs. Your socks may get a bit dirtier, though.

Flyknit technology will launch in the Flyknit Racer, which marathon runners from Kenya, Great Britain, Russia and the U.S. will wear this spring. That shoe and a slightly heavier, everyday training shoe called the Flyknit Trainer+ will hit the market in July. Nike will also offer Flyknit construction in the HTM Flyknit series, which experiments with different colors and patterns.

The video below is essentially the Flyknit concept animated.

Source: Nike

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Hopefully, this shoe can still be made by pathetic 3rd World wage slaves, and their children overseas.

Sadly, for NIKE, this will not be a shoe that will make for riots.

I worked in the running business and it seemed that the unsundry behind the scenes in manufacturing are lost in in the media and their hype. Of course, customers would flinch some..., just some. New Balance does make, some to most, of their shoes here in the US of A, and seem to make enough profit to, Just Do It.


Hi there, this is a cool technology, but the shoe is knitted, not crocheted. Crochet and knitting are not the same art, and for Nike this is especially important as crochet cannot be done by machine. Any time you see a crocheted item, it has been made by hand by someone. One of the major bonuses of the knitted shoe for Nike is eliminating the bulk of the human labor involved in making the shoe, which may lead to the shoe being manufactured in the U.S.

Molly Glenn
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