For 50 years, Nike has created shoes and fitness apparel that make you feel better: fitter, faster, stronger. With their latest innovation, the company hopes to better the world.
Today, you can buy the first pieces made from the brand’s new material called Forward. Unlike traditional fabrics—which come to life via a multistage process that involves spinning yarn, knitting, cutting, sewing, and more—Forward is made using needle-punch machines. Nike adapted this tech from the automotive and medical industries over five years, using it to turn multiple thin layers of fiber into textile. Reducing the manufacturing steps cuts down on energy usage, resulting in a carbon footprint that’s 75 percent smaller than that of a traditional Nike knit fleece.
The first Nike Forward silhouettes are a classic grey hoodie ($160) and crew neck ($130). Both highlight Nike’s commitment to sustainability: They’re made without dyes, which generates zero water waste; free of embellishments like zippers, aglets (those metal and plastic tubes on the end of shoelaces), or extra trims that make apparel harder to recycle. They’re also made of 70 percent recycled content (future Forward garments may be made from industrial and post-consumer waste).
Despite its sheer size, Nike is no stranger to eco-conscious endeavors. The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature, a sustainable take on the brand’s popular road racing sneaker introduced last fall, is made of at least 50 percent total recycled content. In 2021, the company increased the amount of renewable energy used in owned or operated facilities from 48 percent to 78 percent. And used Nike shoes and apparel can be dropped off at participating stores to be recycled or donated.
But Forward is Nike’s biggest step towards minimizing the company’s overall environmental footprint. “We believe this platform has the potential to reset the way we think about material and apparel,” says Aaron Heiser, Nike’s VP of global apparel product merchandising. “This … has huge potential to transform the industry.”