How Nike Designed The U.S. World Cup Jerseys
High-tech tools combined with old-school research helped create the high-performance collection.
The World Cup is the most important football event on the calendar and ensuring that players around the world have the best kits possible is one of Nike’s latest missions.
The temperatures in Brazil sometimes reach the mid-80s during the games and humidity levels are high. However due to the fluctuation in temperatures in different regions of Brazil, where one area can feel warm and sticky and the next cool and crisp, the top designers at Nike had unique challenges to overcome when designing the U.S. jerseys.
The Nike design team did thorough research backed up by lots of data to ensure the players could adapt from one temperature to another. They worked closely with the athletes during training, asking them what they thought were the most important elements in a jersey for the upcoming games.
“A good designer is a good listener, a good observer,” Martin Lotti, Nike’s creative director for football, explained to WIRED. “So before you put pen to paper you step back and say how has the game changed what are some data points that we can draw from?”
Maintaing a constant temperature was one of the key findings from the players’ input so Lotti and his team put the prototypes in a simulated climate chamber, making a sweat map of the human body. The data collected revealed that air flow was a key factor regulating temperature so the team introduced laser-cut ventilation holes into the left and right sides of the jersey and a new weave of cotton and polyester (made from recycled plastic bottles) gave an added breathability.
The end products were 16 percent lighter and have 66 percent more ventilation than the previous versions. Lotti’s overall aim was to make players feel like they’re almost wearing nothing at all. “It becomes more like a second skin than a jersey,” he proudly says.