Nike responds to controversial Paris Olympics kits for Team Kenya & USA

Nike responds to controversial Paris Olympics kits for Team Kenya & USA

Abigael Wafula 15:05 - 21.05.2024

The brains behind the Paris 2024 Olympics Nike kits have explained the reasons behind the designs that generated mixed reactions from Kenyans and Americans.

The Paris 2024 Olympic Nike kits for team Kenya and USA elicited mixed reactions from fans who were worried about the colour and too much exposure among other aspects.

Nike unveiled the kits during the "On Air" event where world 100m champion Sha'Carri Richardson, two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, double world record holder Faith Kipyegon among other athletes were used as models.

However, what people did not know is that Nike has been preparing for the Olympic Games for a few years (since before the pandemic). As reported by Fashionista, they were focusing on fine-tuning features like Dri-Fit and Air for even better performance, testing items over Zoom.

"You need diversity in your pool. You need a certain amount of playing hours, time and intensity in these projects, but you also need the voice of an everyday athlete," Kathy Gomez, Nike's vice president of footwear innovation told Fashionista.

“Testing is a very intimate experience, getting to know them and understanding their data but also understanding them. We do everything to make the athlete feel like they're part of the process."

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She added that Nike also uses stats from the sports research labs, taking results from a group of marathoners to optimise a digital prototype for running miles on end, before creating samples.

"Data is the new design. It allows us to amplify the benefits we deliver, whether it's compression or breathability or weight," Vice President of Apparel Innovation Janett Nichol said.

“To make a garment, we don't have to cut it into several pieces and then put all those elements together. We're able to put data through a digital computational system, and everything comes out."

Speaking about basketball, Gomez added: “If you think about efficiency in basketball, it's about holding your foot in. Containment in all directions plus comfort are two things that can be opposing.

"Being able to get containment that locks you in but doesn't feel like it's too tight comes from obsessing over the details.”

Nike’s Olympics preparation is mainly focused on refinement, and some sports have offered more room for experimentation.

Meanwhile, Nike did get some backlash after "On Air” with critics sharing their opinion. In response to the former, a Nike spokesperson said there are almost 50 unique competition styles to choose from, meaning athletes won't have to compete in the skimpiest clothing if they don't want to.

"For a sport like track and field, a sprinter may have very different needs than a javelin thrower, so our collection includes a dozen competition styles fine-tuned for specific events to ensure athletes can choose outfits that match their style and personal preference without sacrificing comfort," he said.

“We also have a range of bottoms for athletes to choose from offering full to less coverage. Ultimately, the best kits ensure that athletes can perform at their best without being distracted by their apparel, helping them stay focused on the world stage."