NEW YORK — Denim and athleticwear may seem an unlikely fit, but Nike could be the brand to change that.
Earlier this week, the activewear giant secured a utility patent for “architecturally reinforced denim” that essentially describes a jeans-jogging pant hybrid, meaning “ath-denim” could be coming to a Nike store near you.
During a recent call with analysts discussing its positive 2016 financial results, Nike president and chief executive officer Mark Parker said the company planned to continue its “relentless flow of innovation” in order to sustain momentum.
The new patent appears to be in line with that promise. It describes a denim fabric that offers “high tenacity” and “moisture management” along with stretch in differing proportions, depending on the desired performance.
Pants made from the fabric are said to have separate but seamless “performance zones,” with the buttocks, thigh and calf areas all likely to have differing fabric weaves, plus “padding for shock absorption.”
Nike offers a small range of men’s pants, including one denim option geared toward skateboarders, but the new patent is aimed at extreme sports such as BMX and motocross.
“For decades now, denim has been a popular ‘American comfort’ staple in everyone’s closet, both in the U.S. and around the world,” Nike said in its patent application. “While denim is a relatively tough and durable fabric, conventional denim lacks the resilience and other performance and/or comfort characteristics desired for athletic endeavors, particularly extreme sports.”
With the new patent, Nike said it hopes to offer “denim fabric and gear made from this fabric suitable for extreme sports athletes, providing them with comfort and an outstanding level of protection, while being fashionable and attractive.”
Nike said the denim fabric could be used in the manufacture of all other types of apparel, from women’s leggings to shoes, and noted the fabric can be dyed any color, not just blue.
Moreover, Nike said the combination of synthetic polymers in the fabric would not only create a “lightweight, comfortable, dry feeling, resilient denim” but also one that provides “outstanding resilience and protection against rips, and significantly slows down wear and tear even when exposed against repeated friction against harsh surfaces such as cement, rocks, sand, etc.”
Future iterations of the fabric could offer a “waterless wash,” according to the application, which also alluded to the possibility of fabrics beyond denim getting the same composition.
While Nike is a prolific patent filer, this appears to be the company’s first for denim. Nike initially filed for the patent in 2012.
The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
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