By  on August 19, 2008

Nike wants to be more competitive in the retail arena by playing up its iconic products.

On Friday, the Beaverton, Ore.-based apparel and footwear giant will kick off a fifth retail format called Nike Sportswear, which focuses on eight of its most enduring and recognized apparel and footwear products, often endorsed by world-famous athletes, and redesigning them with new style, comfort and performance technology. The prototype is a 3,000-square-foot unit situated at 21 Mercer Street in New York’s SoHo, between Canal and Grand Streets.

Nike entered retailing in 1990 with the first NikeTown store in downtown Portland, Ore. The activewear firm also operates Nike, NikeFactory and NikeWomen stores in the U.S. and around the world. The NikeTown format is the largest, averaging over 30,000 square feet.

Although no executives were available Monday to discuss plans for future Nike Sportswear retail sites, the company appears inclined to roll it out. NikeTown on 57th Street in Manhattan recently redesigned its fifth floor to devote the space to Nike Sportswear and its premium apparel line, the NSW Collection. In addition, was launched on Aug. 8, the same day as the start of the Olympics in Beijing.

In a statement issued Monday, Dermott Cleary, vice president of Nike Sportswear, said, “The NSW collection is steeped in Nike’s sports heritage and remixed with cutting-edge engineering, craftsmanship and modern design. We’re putting the best of our entire collection under one roof, in New York City, so consumers from all over the world can access it.”

The store will offer exclusive products, including Nike Sportswear Bespoke, where consumers, by appointment, can work one-on-one with Nike designers to customize footwear, Nike said.

To hype the opening, Nike will have a block party on the evening of Aug. 21 with an installation of artwork inspired by Nike product and athletes. The company posted $18.6 billion in sales volume last year.

The eight products featured in the new Nike Sportswear retail showcase are: Air Force 1, the first basketball shoe to feature Nike Air technology in its inner sole; the Windrunner running jacket, launched at the 1984 Olympic Games; the AW 77 Hoody sweatshirt worn bylegendary runners from Steve Prefontaine to Alberto Salazar; the Nike Dunk basketball high-top; the Eugene Track Jacket; NSW T, launched in 1979, now remade with a modified fit, 100 percent organic cotton and soft-hand inks; Cortez, the running shoe developed by celebrated track coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, and the Air Max 90 F running shoe with the “air-sole” cushioning.

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