The right sports bra can be the difference between a kick-ass 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.
That’s because the sports bra has a pretty big job: Provide support to minimize bounce, discomfort and even tissue damage during exercise (stretched breast ligaments don’t tighten back up like muscle tissue does).
Plain and simple? No sports bra, no work out.
Though it’s typically hidden beneath a layer, Nike sees the sports bra as so much more than an undergarment, and wants women to celebrate the sports bra and to view it as a symbol of the power they possess.
“When any bra fits right, it can make you feel more confident,” says Nicole Rendone, Design Director of Bras and Innovation. “But the right sports bra can make you want to do the things that will actually make you fit and healthy.”
Combining athlete feedback, data and a deep knowledge of different breast shapes and tissue densities, Nike designs high-performance sports bras with women-specific innovation for athletes of every level.
A pinnacle example: the Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra.
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 Epic React running shoe to LeBron James’s signature Nike LEBRON 16 basketball shoe.
To take Flyknit from the foot to the body for the first time, engineers and designers put in more than 600 hours of rigorous biometric testing, including motion capture and creating atlas maps.
“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 Rendone. "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 uses 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. While other high-support Nike bras can have up to 41 pieces and 22 seams, the Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra has two panels and a binding and is 30 percent lighter than any other bra in Nike’s line.
This summer, the bra will support female footballers on pitch in France.
“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 cycling, Pilates to 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."
What's Next for Bras
The FE/NOM Flyknit Bra is part of Nike's intent to deliver a wide range of options – for fit, support, feel and style – offering the perfect bra to match personal preferences. In fact, Nike's Spring/Summer 2019 bra collection includes 57 styles across three support levels in sizes up to 44G and features three innovations and 12 different materials. Because enabling women of more shapes, sizes and sport interests to get after it helps fuel a collective power.