Nike’s sportswear designers were recently assigned a very specific task: Come up with the best performance wear possible to be worn by a highly select group of 1,600 men.
Those men are the professional players belonging to the 32 teams of America’s National Football League, and today Nike presented their new uniforms, signalling their status as the League’s new official apparel manufacturer both on and off the field. The Elite 51 uniforms combine Nike’s manufacturing, materials and research prowess into “a completely integrated system of dress” that is lighter, stronger, and more flexible than previous iterations.
The baselayers have foam impact protection built into “hit zone” areas like the shoulder, hips and tailbone. The thighs are protected by lightweight carbon-fiber plates. The seams are strategically placed and designed to lie flat to avoid chafing the wearer. The fabric used is Nike’s Dri-FIT mesh, designed to wick moisture away from the player.
The outer layer of the uniforms are constructed with Nike’s Flywire technology, originally designed for footwear, which weaves fibers together in a particular way to add support where it’s needed without creating bulk and weight. The jerseys achieve what’s known as a “lockdown” fit, encompassing the bulge of the pads and shrinking back down to the wearer’s body, eliminating any loose inch of clothing that a defender might get their fingers onto.