Sep 06, 2022
by James Roberts
Nike Forward Is a Move Towards a Zero Carbon Future
by James Roberts
Sep 06, 2022

We focus a lot on the innovations that the Nike design team come up with in the footwear department. Just last week, we shortlisted 10 eco-friendly kicks that feature recycled materials and innovative designs. But now, we’re excited to reveal Nike’s new innovation for its apparel collection: Nike Forward.

Nike Forward is an innovative new process for creating fabrics and garments with fewer manufacturing steps. Fewer steps means a smaller carbon footprint, less waste and less water usage. The first product to be revealed under the Forward platform is a reimagining of the iconic gray hoodie. A staple for any athletic-minded wardrobe.

But first, let’s take a step backwards to understand the impact Nike reckons its new tech will have on the industry. In a statement, the brand claims that Forward is “the company’s most significant apparel innovation since Dri-Fit.” Any athlete at any level will know that Dri-Fit changed performance sporting gear dramatically when it was introduced in the early 90s. In a move away from traditional cotton, Dri-Fit employed moisture-wicking and cooling technologies to keep athletes comfortable no matter how hard they trained. From running shorts to track jackets, sports bras to caps, the Dri-Fit logo could be found everywhere. So, for Nike to say that Forward could be as significant as that, is a bold statement.

Fast forward 30 years and Nike has developed a technique called needle-punch. It can turn fiber into textile without the usual multistage process that’s involved with knitting or weaving. Skipping unnecessary steps means that less energy is consumed in the process. In this first generation of Forward material, there has been a 75 percent reduction in its carbon footprint compared to traditional knit fleece. That’s a pretty hefty reduction.

In addition to this energy-saving process, the hoodie is made from 70 percent recycled material — in this case, recycled polyester. As Forward develops, the process could use industrial waste, pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste in the creation of new products.

The first Nike Forward release, the gray hoodie, is a simple silhouette in keeping with its ethos of removing unnecessary extras. Structural binding along the sleeves and back provide contrast against the perforated texture of the Forward fabric. A small Nike Swoosh logo and circular Move To Zero emblem add subtle branding. And the pockets have a raw cut edge and zero water was used in its dyeing and finishing.

You also won’t find any zippers, aglets or extra trims on this piece. This makes the hoodie easy to recycle when it comes to the end of its life. This circular design principle is vital in creating a future of more sustainable fashion.

This is just the start. As we’ve seen over the years with Dri-Fit, Flyknit, Next Nature and more, Nike is efficient at taking new technologies and applying them across its whole output.

“It’s game-changing platforms, like Nike Forward, that accelerate a culture of innovation at Nike to help protect the planet and the future of sport,” says Janett Nichol, VP Apparel Innovation, NIKE, Inc.

What starts today as a gray hoodie could soon be across a whole low-carbon wardrobe of athletic and everyday garments. Stay tuned to see where Nike Forward goes next.