Color is an essential element of Nike’s design philosophy — its utilization is fundamental to creating product that connects to the body, mind and heart of an athlete.
There are abundant examples of Nike’s color work making a broad impact. Starting in ’87, color choices for the Air Max line, like the infrared window of the Air Max 90, punctuated game-changing shifts in Nike Air technology.
Color has played a similarly crucial role in defining the potential of new upper materials, from synthetics to knits. In 2012, Volt helped Flyknit burst into public consciousness on the track at the London games. And just last summer, the company launched the Unlimited Colorway on track and field footwear. Inspired by color-shifting bird feathers and shining beetle shells, this scheme paired Volt with Hyper-Punch Pink to create a new expression of speed and natural motion.
More recently, Nike’s color obsession has been central to the development of the new Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit. Nike color designers worked collaboratively with Flyknit engineers to program three distinct zones for color application: the shoe’s vamp, rand and foxing. In many cases, color-blocking was achieved using heathered Flyknit on the rand, connecting the knit upper to the transparent VaporMax sole unit, while maintaining gradual color transitions.
In Spring 2017, VaporMax launched with Pure Platinum, a colorway referencing not only Nike Air itself, but Oregon’s famously fresh air and cloudy skies, too. Other releases recalled iconic Nike footwear colorways: the OG honors the original Platinum/University Red/Wolf Grey Air Max 1, and Cookies & Cream harkens back to the popular black/white Flyknit Racer.
Ending the Summer season, the NikeLab Air VaporMax Flyknit BETRUE drew from the eight-color rainbow, a prominent symbol of Pride, which debuted on the 1978 Pride flag. Work on this VaporMax unit initiated a new process for dyeing an air bag with more than two colors for the first time.
For Fall 2017, VaporMax comes in new colorways drawing from a range of influences, including superheroes, running through grass and space exploration.
In the Explorer collection, Nike’s consistent investigation of new technologies, including Nike Air, is tied to historical exploration. Bronze-colored swooshes hint at the deep-sea diving helmets that opened up underwater frontiers, while the white and blue of the Explorer Light colorway reference space suits. The Explorer Dark colorway alludes to the gritty texture of faraway planets.