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Yesterday, Nike launched the Tech Fleece collection for fall/holiday 2013. Earlier in the week, we got a first-hand look at the line and its Black Pack capsule collection made especially for the US Open in Tennis this week, right before heading to a night game at Flushing Meadows.
Jessica Laird, Nike Women’s Sportswear Apparel Design Director, was in New York from Portland to join us for the night session matches and told us about the innovation behind Tech Fleece. “We really wanted to modernize fleece. It’s two layers of jersey with a mono-foam spacer that traps your body heat. It’s like you are wearing multiple layers of fabric without all that weight. We’re calling it warmth without weight.”
The initial release of the collection brings us color-ways in grey. Later for the holidays, we’ll see some red and green hues. For the men, the Tech Fleece collection is all about incorporating the new fabric into classic sportswear silhouettes. Like the Tech Fleece N98 track jacket, AW77 hoodie, Windrunner, and Crew. “For this entire collection we were really trying to go for this modern look of sport,” said Laird. The classic front kangaroo pocket has been bonded from the inside, creating a clean look without the bulk of typical ribbed cuffs and waistband.
The AW77 is one of Nike’s best selling hoodies. Here again is the bonded pocket plus a new detailed – a contoured sleeve for full range of motion. “We’re trying to take insights form our performance apparel product and bring it into sportswear. We’re innovating for life, people. Its amazing,” said Laird with a smile.
Those contemporary details were applied to the Tech Fleece Windrunner and Crew. The result is an incredibly smart-looking piece of apparel (personally, we can’t wait to get our hands on the Crew and make it our fall wardrobe staple).
The Windrunner – an iconic Nike sportswear piece that has been around for 30 years – has a mate in the women’s collection. The stitching around the pockets was taken away and added in was matte black branding, a reverse coil zip, and thumbholes at the cuff, which we know will be a hit.
But the real moments in the collection are two totally new silhouettes – the Tech Fleece Cape and Hoodie. The latter has a super exaggerated hood, that can be worn down as a cowl or up almost like a cloak. “It’s really cool, really sporty, with a nod to fashion,” said Laird. “For women, we know that she moves faster trend-wise so we wanted to speak to her.”
The Tech Fleece Cape, though, is the game changer. We’re positive this will be the most coveted item of the bunch. The off-center zipper and dropped back hem make for an incredibly chic jacket. “This is the real showstopper of the collection, I think. We think she can wear this to the gym, or it can transition to night time, she can go out on the town and still look really polished,” said Laird.
Nike also let us take a peak at the special Black Pack capsule collection made especially with the US Open for Tennis in mind, taking place this week in New York. Why black? Well, it’s New York. And then there’s the fact that the US Open is the only grand slam to hold matches at night.
So the men’s Black Pack includes the Nike Tech Fleece N98 in black and the Nike Air Tech Challenge II. The tennis shoe was popularized originally by Andre Agassi, who wore it in white with splashes of pink. This version is blacked out with a blue sole (a reference to the blue hard-courts of Flushing Meadows) with scattered reflectivity, another reference to the night sessions.
The women’s Black Pack includes the Cape (even more desirable in black), the Full-zip Windrunner, and the Nike Tennis Classic AC. The shoes are quite feminine with a narrow body and black soft patent leather. The light grey sole gives it more of an urban, New York look. But it’s still a tennis shoe, with its terry cotton liner and blue sole.
The standouts for us from the Tech Fleece collection have to be the men’s Crew, the Cape, and the Black Pack Tennis Classic AC. Nike promises we’ll be seeing more from Tech Fleece for the holidays and in the spring. Until then…