Nike launches 50% recycled leather material
Nike is taking steps in its corporate sustainability plan to reduce its carbon footprint and has announced the launch of Flyleather, a new leather material made from leather scraps.
"The earth is the athlete’s biggest playground, so one of our greatest opportunities is to create breakthrough products while protecting our planet,” says Hannah Jones, Nike Chief Sustainability Officer and VP of the Innovation Accelerator.
Flyleather reduces waste in leather manufacturing. In traditional leather processes, up to 30 percent of the cow's hide is thrown away. Similar to Nike's campaign in the 90s to recycle rubber from old sneaker soles, Nike has now gone to tanneries and gathered up their scraps to make a new fabric.
Nike fuses the scraps with synthetic fibers to create a new material that can be dyed and put on a roll to be cut like pleather. Unlike pleather, Flyleather uses 50 percent genuine leather and its handfeel can mimic the touch and fit of athletic leather, reminiscent of old basketball shoes.
Tony Bignell, Nike VP of Footwear Innovation said, "Unlike with traditional leathers, Flyleather can be produced with a consistent grade across a broader range of product."
From a sustainability standpoint, the Flyleather uses 80 to 90 percent less water than traditional leather and has half the carbon footprint. Since the material is produced on a roll it can be used like a cut-and-sew fabric that maximizes yield and minimizes waste.
The new fabric offers performance benefits too. It is 40 percent lighter than traditional leather and five times more durable than real leather in abrasion tests.
Nike foresees using Flyleather in apparel and accessories as well as across multiple sport categories. The first Flyleather product launches today and is an all-white tennis shoe called the Nike Flyleather Tennis Classic. It is now available at Nike's 21 Mercer, the Nike SoHo store and Dover Street Market in New York City.
In addition to the tennis shoe, Nike will showcase special Flyleather editions of its Air Force 1, Air Max 90, Cortez and Jordan 1 models at Climate Week NYC.
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