Today, Nike is launching nine new or updated workout tights and pants as part of the new Nike Pants Studio, a concept designed to give athletes more choice and enhance their workouts with apparel that was made for specific activities.
“We are designing for every athlete — no matter what activity they’re doing,” says Jamie Lee, Senior Design Director for Nike Women’s Training. “On top of expanding the styles, we’re giving choices for materials, finishes, feel, rises, lengths and features.” Think of it like a denim bar for your workouts.
Six of the nine styles, clockwise from left: Nike Pro Tight, Nike Fly Tight, Nike Speed Tight, Nike Swift Pant, Nike Bliss Pant, Nike Sculpt Tight
The designers poured over each element of fit, from the ideal average length for a given activity, to making sure the waistband is high enough for coverage but not so high that it makes it hard to bend or move during a particular sport and so on.
“We got insight from elite and everyday athletes and did a ton of wear tests and focus groups with women from all over the world, asking them things like, ‘What do you look for in a pant or tight? What is your favorite style? What do you love about the ones you’re currently wearing? What do you wish your pant or tight had?’ and so on,” says Lee.
That feedback resulted in designing unique technical features that have the potential to improve each silhouette's particular workout experience. “We know that many women do different types of workouts, and for each workout, there is something they need functionally from their tight or pant that isn't the same across all the activities,” explains Lee. “So, now we have styles that are more for the studio, for traditional training workouts and even a team-oriented tight.”
Beyond performance, determining what style is right for you can also have a profound effect on your workout motivation. “What you’re wearing can play a big role in how confident you feel,” says Joslyn Thompson Rule, a London-based NTC Master Trainer. “And that can be the difference in getting to the gym or not in the first place.”
To help you determine which style (or styles, depending on your routine) could be right for you, follow this simple guide:
Running is linear. When you do it, your body is mostly upright and generally moving forward. But during all-out pushes, you move through a bigger range of motion than when you go at a moderate or slow pace. “When you're sprinting, you have greater hip and knee range of motion than someone running at an every-athlete marathon pace,” says Bridget Munro, senior researcher in the Nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL). Beyond that demand for more mobility, when you want to go fast, every ounce of weight can add time to the clock.
To help you feel swift and light during your speediest workouts, designers took a minimal approach to creating the Nike Speed Tight. For example, they did away with the zipper pocket that typically lives on the back of the waistband of every Nike running tight. “The goal was to eliminate anything that could add unnecessary weight or be distracting,” says Jessica Laird, Senior Design Director for Women’s Running. Instead, they placed a sleek drop-in pocket slightly behind each hip. (The one on the right snugly fits up to an iPhone 7. The smaller pocket on the left can stash your ID, cash and a key.)
The mid-rise waistband offers more coverage and the sensation of core support. “I don't have time to pull up my trousers midway through a run or hurdles if they start to fall or bunch, so I need something high that firmly holds me in,” says Shona Richards, a Nike athlete and rising sprint talent in the UK who specializes in the 400-meter hurdle event. But if you don’t prefer that held-in feeling, fold the waistband down for a low rise.
The polyester-spandex fabric is compression grade. “Part of the goal of compression tights is to decrease soft tissue movement,” says Munro. “We generally see that compression can reduce soft tissue motion in the quads and hamstrings, which can be a good thing during a fast, intense run because runners feel more locked in and powerful.”
When you’re on a run that doesn’t involve bursts of all-out effort, your body requires less range of motion. As you get tired, you rely more on your core strength to keep your form from going out the window. And the longer and sweatier your run is the higher your risk of chafing, which is caused by a combination of friction and moisture. “If you have things rubbing together, whether it's thigh on thigh or tight on skin, you're going to have an increased risk of chafing,” says Laird.
“The Epic Lux is our most technical running tight,” says Laird. To update this classic silhouette, designers observed distance runners doing their thing. “We watched a half-marathon to see what people were wearing and if we noticed any problems that needed to be solved,” says Laird. “It seemed like no one knew where to put their phones. People were running 13 miles with their phone in their hand—we couldn’t believe it!” Proper media storage became an immediate priority.
But phones aren’t the only thing runners bring with them. “From our research, we learned that more than 70 percent of runners take something with them,” says Laird. With that information, the designers created secure storage options in three easy-access and distraction-free pockets on the Epic Lux:
A zipper pocket on the back of the waistband. A vapor barrier on the interior will help keep your stuff dry when you get sweaty.
A new drop-in pocket on the right (just behind your hip bone). This holds your phone so you can change a song, answer a text message or snap a photo on the go. And don’t worry about it falling out, the snug fabric will stretch over the top.
A small drop-in pocket at the front of the waistband. Store your fuel for long runs, lip balm, a key or card here.
A wide waistband gives the feeling of core support, which is especially important as you bag miles. “We heard from testers that waistbands can be itchy, so we lined this with a really sleek, cool-touch material so you get a real luxe feel as soon as you put it on,” says Laird.
Super-soft sheer panels (the same new material that’s used on the inside of the waistband) behind the knees wrap around the calves to keep you cool and dry, and the designers curved the hem in the back to accentuate the Achilles and flatter the smallest part of your leg. “This fits me well and is so comfortable, and I don’t feel any scratches or irritations when I’m running in it,” says Faith Kipyegon, a Nike athlete and a Kenyan middle-distance runner who won gold in the 1,500-meter race in London this summer.
The lightbulb moment for this style came when Nike designers received feedback from product testers who mentioned a need for a running pant, rather than a tight. “We thought, can we make a super lightweight pant that our athletes would actually run in? We figured it was a great opportunity to give her another choice…plus pants are having a moment right now!” says Laird.
The fabric is light and loose, and won’t get sweaty or chafe-y on short runs. The cuffs are tapered, so you can pull them up or down depending on the coverage or look you’re going for. The fit is flattering and slim even though it’s not a tight.
“The goal of the Swift Pant was to create something that would give you more flexibility in your day so that you can go for a run and to the grocery store and still feel comfortable,” says Lee. It’s a hybrid pant; something you can jog or dance in — or not do anything in.
“High-intensity interval workouts tend to include plyometrics, gymnastics, moving swiftly from one exercise to the next — they’re super varied,” says Thompson Rule. “You could be down on the floor, then exploding up, so I find it very important that my tights can go through all of those movements without me trying to adjust or pull them up.” Because even minor adjustments can add up to missed reps.
When it comes to making training tights, designers focus on the six core movements (push, pull, lunge, squat, bend and rotate). “During any given training workout, you will move in these ways, and that influences the materials we use and the all of the product’s details, such as the rise of the waistband and where we place the seams,” says Lee.
The Power Tight has a new bonded waistband that provides more support while still being really flexible so you won’t feel constricted during core exercises. It’s midrise in the front and curved higher at the back to keep your butt covered during deep squats and deadlifts.
Powermesh fabric (essentially an elasticized mesh with compression) provides moderate compression, feels slick to the touch and helps to keep you dry and cool through the most intense workouts.
Small pockets on the sides of the thighs fit your phone so you can easily access the latest NTC workout or your pump-up playlist.
Whether you are part of a team or just like to train as though you are, the Nike Pro Tight was designed to make you feel ready to take on any demand — from practice drills to agility work to lifting heavy — by making it feel like you aren’t even wearing pants. It’s the lightest style in Nike’s line, and you can wear it as a base layer under shorts if you prefer a little more coverage or on its own.
Lightweight cooling fabric and mesh panels that wrap around the legs provide targeted ventilation. The seams are minimal to reduce the chance of distraction or discomfort that could throw you off your game.
During a spin class, the bike may not move. But you certainly do. You’ll alternate between heavy seated climbs, where your torso is lengthened forward; standing climbs, where you raise your hips and shift them back over the saddle while reaching for the end of the handlebars; you’ll do sprints, get in and out of the saddle and sometimes even pick up light weights. And the vibe is typically intense.
“We built the Fly Tight to provide a tight but unrestricted fit for high mobility, and determined the exact length that spin class consumers prefer, which is just below the knee but not too far down on the calf that it constrains her movement,” says Lee. The designers also used a new stitching to minimize any chance of irritation or discomfort once you heat up.
“It gets so hot in a spin class, and these tights are light and breathable that it almost feels like I’m not sweating at all,” says Clotilde Chaumet, a Parisian indoor cycling instructor. That feeling is thanks to large mesh panels at the back of the knees (which designers learned was a high-sweat zone).
The waistband is lower in the front to prevent bunching and rises higher in the back to keep you covered and comfortable when you’re on the bike. Slip a key or card in the bonded internal waistband pocket.
Contrary to what one might expect, not all movement is best served by a tight. In fact, sometimes a looser pant is the answer: Especially when the action in question requires unrestricted, multi-directional mobility as during dance or boxing workouts. “When I wear a looser pant, I don’t sweat as much and I feel more comfortable than when I’m in something tighter,” explains Alejandra Smits, a contemporary dancer from Spain.
The relaxed fit and four-way stretch woven fabric of the Nike Bliss Pant offers versatile lightweight coverage, the type needed for smooth transitions from one shape to the next.
When you’re doing movements that focus on posture, such as yoga, Pilates and types of dance including ballet, you want to get as much length through your spine and to feel grounded in your feet.
The hi-rise waistband holds in your core while graduated compression provides full lower-body sculpting. “Dancers need to feel very centered and tight through their core — that bellybutton to spine feeling — and the rise on these hits me right where I need it, under my ribcage,” says Nardi Boodoo, a professional ballet dancer. “The cut makes my legs look and feel super long and my torso look little, so it also gives me a really confident, flattering feeling.”
Powermesh on the back removes a layer of material for improved ventilation. There are no side seams, so you can move freely and feel flexible. A small external pocket on the back holds essentials.
“Our research told us that there was a girl who was specifically looking for a pant they could wear to yoga, so we focused on giving her something that provided 360 range of motion,” says Lee.
The jersey knit is soft to the touch and super comfortable on. The draped silhouette is loose and facilitates sweeping movements like dancer’s pose and half-moon, while the fitted bottoms let you pull them up for positions such as tree pose and keep them from slipping over your feet during inversions.
“We wanted to design a really versatile, lightweight option for a variety of activities,” says Lee. “It’s a solid go-to if you need a really great loose knit pant.”
The bottom line is that even though each of these silhouettes was designed with specific sport features top of mind, none is truly right or wrong for any workout. “Personal preference is something even the most elite athletes listen to,” says Lee.
A new Pants Studio experience online further helps you navigate the new collection. Nike did market research and polled consumers on how they prefer to shop and asked them about the pain points they run into when shopping for pants or tights. They determined that women want a clear and simple experience that tells them four things immediately: fit, length, rise and intended activity.
Shop all nine pants and tights, available October 16, on nike.com. Select styles will be available at Nike stores and retailers globally.
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