It’s been 30 years since Nike created its Functional Innovative Technologies, or FIT, apparel that offered three distinct performance features: Dri-FIT to wick away sweat, Storm-FIT to protect against wind and rain, and Therma-FIT, to retain warmth.
Although these technologies seem commonplace three decades later, they were viewed as groundbreaking at the time.
“The original intent that was that we were going to deliver technologies that allowed athletes to perform better because the product that they were wearing would respond to what’s happening in their body,” said Janett Nichol, vice president of apparel innovation for Nike.
Earlier this year, Nike quietly launched FIT Advanced, or FIT ADV, with the WNBA and is now rolling the technology out beyond elite performance product to all manner of performance and lifestyle apparel. That includes everything from T-shirts and sports bras to highly technical outerwear across running and training, as well as the fall ACG line, Nike’s outdoor-inspired performance collection.
FIT ADV was created after significant athlete testing at the Nike Sport Research Lab and newly opened LeBron James Innovation Center at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon, determining how much a person sweats and where and which parts of the body are most vulnerable to wind and cold. Those learnings were then collated into digital designs intended to cool, warm or protect the athlete on the parts of the body where they need it most, according to Nichol. “It’s one seamless garment that works as a comprehensive performance system.”
An example is the Nike Alpha Ultrabreathe with Dri-FIT ADV sports bra that features cooling and wicking mesh in high heat and sweat zones.
But in addition to the updated performance features, Nike is calling out the attributes through the use of fashionable design features such as different colors.
“That’s where the ‘advanced’ comes in,” Nichol said. “It’s the ability to get incredibly specific and prescriptive about where technologies need to be, and then to have a little fun with how those technologies show up — say, highlighting the cooling zones with a pop of color, which, visually, can be compelling and beautiful.”
These updates are expected to appeal to all consumers, whether they’re wearing the product to walk the dog or race a triathlon. “In the past,” Nichol said, “we used to focus on elite athletes,” she said. But Nike’s mantra is that: “If you have a body you’re an athlete,” so FIT ADV is being offered across sportswear and performance so the wearer can focus on their movements and performance and “not be distracted by the elements.”
Nur Abbas, Nike design director of men’s apparel for ACG, said the fall product that is being introduced was tested on Iceland’s glaciers and ice caves where it faced extreme cold, wind and moisture, and those insights were blended with the data obtained from the lab to create the Lunar Lake puffer, which offers varying amounts of insulation in zones where it is needed the most. The jacket, which offers at least 75 percent recycled polyester and nylon fibers, is currently available for purchase for $325. Other products were also tested in Iceland that are being offered for fall.
FIT ADV product will be sold at what Nike is calling “a premium” over the other FIT products. For example, a men’s Therma-FIT Repel synthetic fill running jacket retails for $120 and the FIT ADV down-filled version sells for $250.