Nike and some of the other main players in the sports equipment field have been developing some impressive technology for footwear lately. Nike’s own “flyknit” technology, a lighter knitted material implemented in lifestyle as well as sportswear, has been one of the standout introductions in the last while. Its unique woven method doesn’t just help make feather-light football boots, but is also perfect for breathable and durable summer sneakers. However, in the interest of optimising their resources, Nike is also introducing what they’re calling “Flyleather” – an amalgam of materials incorporating what would’ve been wasted leather.
The sportswear giant claims that often up to 30% of the initial hide they use in manufacturing their leather products ends up on the factory floor and goes to waste. In an attempt to chop this waste out of their manufacturing process, they’ve undertaken the development of “Flyleather” – using these “waste” scraps of leather.
They gather the scraps, break them down into smaller fibers, combine them with some synthetic fibres, and in a high-pressure hydro process, fuse the two together to create a new material: Flyleather. Effectively it’s like taking leather and some synthetic material, throwing it into a blender and getting a material out that can be used for more products.
Nike’s initial durability tests claim that the Flyleather material could be up to 40% lighter and five times more durable than conventional leather. Ideally that means that sneakers or other clothing products made with this material would last a lot longer, and leave less waste — not only in manufacturing but also from customers chucking old clothes because they’re looking ratty.
Whether this is all marketing talk or not is yet to be seen, but their attempts are promising and less waste coming out of the clothing industry is always an objective that deserves praise. Nike will be launching one of their most famous silhouettes using the Flyleather tech: the Tennis Classic, priced at $85 (around R1,150). Nothing goes further than a classic white leather sneaker – so this will be the perfect test run to see how long their new material lasts.
There haven’t been any announcements on further sneakers or football boots incorporating the new material – but watch this space, it’s only a matter of time before they announce applications for Flyleather elsewhere!