The right sports bra can be the difference between a kickass workout and no workout at all. “It is the most important piece of apparel for the active woman — a good one enables women to play sports, and sports can give women confidence in life,” says Janett Nichol, VP of apparel innovation.
So then, what makes a sports bra good? The NikeWomen design team asked athletes, and the response was unanimous: Women want a bra that provides total support for a variety of activities and one that keeps them cool and dry without sacrificing comfort. They also want it to look as good as it feels.
Hearing these needs, the Nike Innovation team spoke up with a solution. Considering what Nike Flyknit technology does best — holds shape while facilitating precise zones of greater or less support and breathability— they had no doubt that this method of construction would be Nike’s sports bra game changer. “Nike Flyknit allows us to be incredibly precise in a single layer,” says Nichol. The technology enables designers to engineer every stitch for specific performance benefits.
Nike Flyknit, which debuted at the 2012 London games with the Nike Flyknit Racer, is a digitally engineered knitting process best known for its role in lightweight, formfitting and virtually seamless shoe uppers. Today, the technology is used in Nike footwear across sport, from the Nike Zoom Fearless Flyknit women’s training shoe to Kevin Durant’s signature Nike KD10.
To determine how to best use the technology on high-performance apparel, engineers and designers went to work, putting in more than 600 hours of rigorous biometric testing, including motion capture and creating atlas maps — a process that involves taking a digital body scan to evaluate areas of high heat, sweat, cooling and movement. Designers reference these maps when deciding what patterns to knit and materials to use.
While atlas maps aren’t new to Nike, this was the first time the team used them to inform how they should build a sports bra. Rather than using just one map (which is typical to the way most product is created), designers combined three atlas maps —cooling, breathability and support — to determine how to devise the Nike Flyknit pattern.
“The goal of the Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra was maximum support and comfort that would allow women to feel and look amazing while doing anything they choose," explains Nicole Rendone, Senior Bra Innovation Designer. "We prioritized support, breathability and cooling in essential zones."
The bra is constructed with an ultra-soft nylon-spandex yarn that form fits to your body, using two single-layer panels that are assembled for a seamless feel. This Flyknit process also enabled designers to combine encapsulation (which have separate cups for each breast) with compression (which holds the breasts close to the body), offering the best of shape, support and comfort without the addition of components like wires, pads, stabilizers and elastics.
The result is a significant reduction in materials and seams: The Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra has two panels and a binding (other high-support Nike bras can have up to 41 pieces and 22 seams) and is 30-percent lighter than any other bra in Nike’s line.
OTHER HIGH-SUPPORT BRAS IN NIKE'S LINE CAN HAVE UP TO 41 PIECES
THE NIKE FE/NOM FLYKNIT BRA HAS ONLY TWO SINGLE-LAYER PANELS AND BONDING
“The Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra is a new generation of bra," says Rendone. “It offers all of the support, strength and comfort of traditional high-support bras even without all of the components typical to those styles, and it's full-coverage for total confidence during any activity, from running to high-intensity training, boxing to spin, Pilates and yoga.” Perhaps the most exciting result of bringing Nike Flyknit technology to a sports bra is that it opens a massive door for innovation across apparel. “This is bigger than a bra, really,” says Nichol. “It’s about breaking down the barriers women face in sports and life."
Nike Bra Collection
Nike’s bra philosophy is to deliver a wide range of options – for fit, support, feel and style – offering the perfect bra to match personal preferences. That's why Nike is launching three other new bras this season for 30 total styles – its most expansive bra collection to date. Sizing will span from from 32 A to 38 E, and will offer light-, medium- and high-support options.
With so much choice, one simple way to determine what bra is best for your boobs is to take your size and sport to indicate the level of support you need. “Be sure to consider style and comfort as well," says Rendone. "Because in the end, the right bra is the one that makes you feel confident and capable no matter what your workout is.”
The Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra launches July 12 exclusively on Nike+ for 48 hours. Then, the bra will be available on nike.com. All other bra styles shown above are available now.