It’s been said (and often proven) that constraint drives creativity. In skateboarding there’s something akin to a standard uniform, but certainly not those seen on the average field of play. Instead, it's a mix of streetwear staples — effective whether on-board or simply on-route through the city. This reality creates a design challenge — how does one carry the style quota but still decode performance demands?
“The ethos that we have set up, from a design standpoint, is that we are still going to make a hoodie, but we are going to do things that solve the idea of a skateboarder in motion,” says Sebastian Huff, design director of Nike SB.
It is kind of a cool thing to solve for because you are providing performance in the product but you are also making it wearable.
A subtle, though important, element of this ethos is the Nike SB apparel team’s approach to seams and layering. Shirts have set in-sleeves, while hoodies have raglans. Thus, seams aren’t stacked and garments move together in more fluid harmony. Naturally, jackets also have a set-in sleeves completing a system of dress that doesn’t scream “sports uniform,” but retains some inherent benefits (though hidden to the naked eye) of more overtly athletic apparel.
Trousers too have features that transform the typical chino into an aid in action. For example, the addition of a gusset crotch allows for increased mobility — effectively translating the way people dress to their sporting concern.
“It is kind of a cool thing to solve for because you are providing performance in the product but you are also making it wearable,” Huff says. “In transitional and colder seasons we design for three things: helping Keep skaters dry, warm and more visible in low light.”
The Nike SB Shield Coaches Jacket and Nike SB GORE-TEX® Coaches Jacket, put an emphasis on repelling wind and water. In the former, Nike’s signature Nike Shield fabric and a mesh liner upscale a streetwear and skate staple. With the GORE-TEX® Coaches jacket, that idea reaches pinnacle level; the seam-sealed GORE-TEX® shell offers the ultimate in waterproofing. Additionally, the Nike SB Everett Repel Hoodie is finished with a water-repellent coating, and the hybrid construction marries fleece and ripstop fabric for durability. Each of these garments also incorporates pockets built for media storage.
Solving for enhanced visibility, Huff explains that: “We have some reflectivity that you can flip, like turn on. You can fold your cuff back and have reflectivity —choose to be seen or not. You want to be able to turn on or off reflectivity. Maybe you are in a skate spot that you are not supposed to be at...”
With skateboarding there are always those unique peripheral concerns. When form follows function, these create innovative new takes on old standards.
The Nike SB GORE-TEX® Coaches jacket releases on December 15 on Nike.com and at select retailers. The Nike SB spring collection, including the Nike SB Shield Coaches Jacket and Nike SB Everett Repel Hoodie, releases in early 2017.