The modular jacket is nothing new, but my recent experience and real-world testing of Nike‘s new NSRL (Nike Sports Research Lab) “Transform” Jacket has me wondering why transformative clothing is not more popular and ubiquitous. This versatile design concept is more valuable now than ever before because it can decrease our need for seasonal garments and in turn decrease our environmental impact.
During the month of January, I put this jacket to the test. I ran long distances and completed track workouts at dawn, I wore it in frigid temperatures, snow, and rain. I wore it out on errands, and I even used it as my base layer for a day of snowboarding (not its intended use). During that time, I modified it on a daily basis to address my needs. Whether I adapted it before I left the house or in response to a change in weather, it did just about everything I needed it to. When I was done and wanted to pack it away, it easily folded into a small pouch to be stored in my work bag.
The “Transform” jacket is likely the most versatile piece of clothing I’ve ever owned. Last year, I logged over 200 days of running. I cycled between 3 jackets, 2 hoodies, 4 long sleeve tees, 3 T-shirts, and 2 tank tops over the course of the year. This jacket put an end to that. Most days, I wore a T-shirt under the jacket, and on days below freezing, I wore a long sleeve. Realizing that it eliminated the need for half of the “running gear” I already owned, I learned a meaningful lesson in the value of versatility.
While this remarkable modular jacket has converted me to a believer in transformative performance gear, I do have a small but important critique. Currently, Nike is using a recycled polyester Thermcore EcoDown on some of its new products, specifically its latest Stüssy capsule. The EcoDown fill used in that collection replaces traditional feather down and it serves as a meaningful step toward cruelty-free fill alternatives. It would have been great to see that innovation used in this jacket, as opposed to the removable goose down pouches. It may seem like a minor detail, but it’s another opportunity for brands to find alternatives to animal products.
We’ve heard the phrase “Buy Less, Buy Better,” but we’ve got a long way to go to break the conditioned behaviors of overconsumption. The value of this example of transformative clothing revealed itself over time. It helped me rediscover my appreciation for the windproof and water-resistant durability of GORE-TEX. It also provided flexibility that I never fully considered but certainly wish I had. Key functions include: a removable hood that neatly tucks itself into the inner lining; sleeves that don’t only zip off to make a vest, but they have their own compartments discreetly positioned vertically from the hip to the underarm; and 4 pockets of down fill pouches that snap in for maximum warmth, or can be removed to thin the inner lining in warmer temperatures.
For many consumers, the price tag will be a steep hill to climb, as the NSRL “Transform” jacket retails at $350 USD. The question is, is the price tag justified? In my assessment, yes. I’m confident that I will use this transformative jacket for years to come. As a runner pounding various terrains across Northeastern, United States, the weather is a key consideration on a daily basis, and knowing that I can rely on one garment to do the work of 10, helps me justify the price. It also helps me comprehend what buying less and buying better really means when applied to practical scenarios.
> The range also includes: reflective running pants; a Dri-FIT T-shirt with a glow-in-the-dark back graphic; the “Aurora” Bomber jacket with full glow-in-the-dark coverage that stores light during the day and emits it at night; and a body-mapped merino base layer.
> The full NSRL collection hits Nike.com and select shops on February 10.