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Introducing Nike Forward: A Premium, Sustainability-Minded Apparel Innovation



Introducing Nike Forward: A Premium, Sustainability-Minded Apparel Innovation

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On September 15, 2022, Nike released Nike Forward globally. Forward is an apparel innovation that reduces the complexity of material fabrication by turning fiber directly into textile with needle-punch.

Nike Forward, the company’s most significant apparel innovation since Dri-Fit, is resetting the way consumers think about fleece. The innovation simplifies the process of material fabrication by reducing steps: it turns fiber directly into textile through needle-punch. By simplifying the steps involved in creating the textile, Forward contributes to an average 75% reduction in its carbon footprint compared to traditional knit fleece. The finished product is also comprised of 70% recycled content by weight.

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Over five years of research went into Nike Forward. It joins the ranks of other sustainability-forward innovations by the company, such as Flyknit, Space Hippie, and Next Nature. Forward products are made without zippers, aglets, or extra trims, which means that the products will be easier to recycle. Aaron Heiser, the VP of Global Apparel Product Merchandising for Nike, said on the innovation, “We believe this platform has the potential to reset the way we think about material and apparel. This is the biggest Nike apparel innovation since Dri-Fit 30 years ago, and has huge potential to transform the industry in the way that Air and Flyknit did for Nike footwear.”

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Nike Forward debuted in Hoodie and Crew styles, with the iconic grey sweatshirt. The product represents the company’s moving away from traditional knit and woven processes. “It’s game changing platforms, like Forward, that accelerate a culture of innovation at Nike to help protect the planet and the future of sport,” Janett Nichol, the VP of Apparel Innovation commented.

However, some sustainability-conscious consumers remain unconvinced about the extent of the product’s environmental claims. The primary material in the sweatshirts is polyester, which sheds microplastics with every wash. These microplastics can be ingested by marine life, animals, and even people. While the long-term impact of ingesting these microplastics is not yet understood, many scientists remained concerned about the environmental impact of the mass production of polyester products.

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Although not every aspect of Nike Forward is completely sustainability-forward, its production process is a step in the right direction for the textile industry. By creating an innovative, simplified material fabrication process, Nike is proving that ingenuity can have big impacts on long-term sustainability goals.

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