Friday 19 July 2013

Nike: Making Waves In The Sustainable Market

Nike are a big name in sports and casual fashion wear. The numbers speak for themselves: the company employs 38,000 people worldwide, and turns over $24 billion every year.

With that comes a certain perception that all big names share; that when it comes to sustainability, there has to be something lacking. This is a major problem for Nike. Villainous behemoth is not a good look.

A recent article in The Guardian shows how Nike are trying to make it clear to the public and their peers how important sustainability is to them. For example, the new England football kit is made out of recycled plastic bottles. Technology, of course, plays a strong part in addressing sustainability, and the launch of their new Making app shows that off very strongly indeed.

The app hooks into Nike's Materials Sustainability Index, and allows users to see which of the 22 materials most used by their designers has the highest scores for environmental impact, recyclability and so on. By sharing their data, Nike hopes to help inspire the new generation of designers to use materials more thoughtfully, and with a more eco-friendly context.

It's not all perfect, of course. The Nike materials library contains over 65,000 samples, so the app barely brushes the surface of what's available. It can only offer a glimpse of the wider research that Nike is undertaking to address the growing problem of a scarcity of resources that faces the fashion industry. It's also telling, of course, that at the corporate level Nike regards sustainability as part of the mix, rather that the driving force of the product line. Nike footwear designer Vivian Mong was quoted at the launch of the Making app, saying:

"The main concern is performance and aesthetic. We can't compromise on that, it always comes first."

Which goes to show that even for a huge company like Nike, sustainability is a challenging issue.

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