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5 Ways the Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit Celebrates Circular Design

The Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit is one of Nike’s most sustainable shoes to date, made with at least 50 percent recycled content by weight. How the shoe achieved that designation can be credited to a creative implementation of circular design principles in its varied elements. 

“We wanted to look at not only Nike’s waste stream but other industrial waste streams and how we could leverage that content,” says Nike product design lead Jesi Small. “We let that drive a lot of the decision-making.”

Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit 14

Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit sketch

From a new, full-length VaporMax Air unit to a sustainability-first approach to materials, the Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit expands upon the ethos that produced Nike Space Hippie

When each element is considered, the shoe breaks down like this:

1. The first full-length VaporMax Air unit is made with about 75 percent recycled material. With the implementation of a singular, tapered Nike Air unit from heel to toe, which creates a lower profile than previous VaporMax iterations, the 2020 installment sees enhanced comfort and an enhanced ride. (Since 2008, all Air sole innovations contain at least 50 percent recycled material.)

2. The recycled Flyknit yarn is made from about 67 percent post-industrial recycled content by weight, as well as different recycled components (including recycled plastic bottle waste). 

3. The molded dual-density Ortholite sockliner is made from about 50 percent recycled content and amplifies underfoot comfort, while the tongue features at least 80 percent recycled foam.

4. TPU on the heel clip and toe tip contains about 60 percent recycled TPU, and creates a unique swirled effect for added attention-grabbing appeal.

5. With an outsole incorporating Nike Grind, the Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit pounds the pavement with sustainable materials from sole to tip. 

The Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit brings to life a new all-day, everyday shoe that advances the thinking about fit, feel and ride — and raises the bar in balancing sustainability and innovation for everyday wear.

“We wanted to make a sustainably-sourced silhouette from the ground up, and one that is quick and easy to put on and wear daily,” says Small. “That’s why we also innovated around ease of entry, exit and lockdown to design a smarter and better-designed shoe for all athletes.”

"We wanted to make a sustainably-sourced silhouette from the ground up, and one that is quick and easy to put on and wear daily."

Jesi Small, Nike product design lead 

When combined, these raw, sustainable design elements — together with Nike FlyEase innovation — color the vibrant composition of the 2020’s overall aesthetic. 

“One of the cornerstones of what we were trying to do with this shoe was integrate the idea of ‘Rawthenticity,’ or showing how the raw pieces of each of these sustainable design elements was coming to life,” says Jarrod Hale, Nike NSW senior project line manager. “In this approach to being perfectly-imperfect using raw materials, we felt like the idea could show wearers how and why things are working, and from a function and aesthetic aspect that brought the whole thing together.”

For an easy-to-put-on-and-take-off shoe, tailored for wearers of all abilities, with optimal all-day lockdown, the latest addition to the Nike Air VaporMax family integrates Nike FlyEase innovation — a one-handed lock and release mechanism that instantly secures the entire foot. FlyEase is driven by a universal design ethos that champions the value of a suite of systems that work toward a common goal: making shoes easier for everyone. FlyEase builds on Nike’s long-standing commitment to “always listen to the voice of the athlete” and delivers fresh considerations about how shoes should function. 

The Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit is available July 23 on

View hi-res images here

Learn more about Nike’s sustainable design efforts at