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How Nike’s Flyleather is Giving its Classic Sneakers a Sustainable Upgrade

Nike’s Flyleather merges sustainability and performance.




Nike Flyleather Cortez

When it comes to clothing production, sustainability is the current trend that everyone is paying attention to. The backlash against fast-fashion’s manufacturing norms has been turned up, and companies are going to have to start paying attention to how they can produce their products without such a massive waste of valuable resources.

So, Nike’s Flyknit has been well documented by now, but what makes the company’s new Flyleather different? Well, the manufacturing process starts with Nike gathering all the off-cut leather scraps that come from their other products. Then they take synthetic fibres in roughly a 50/50 split with the scrap leather, and in a high-pressure bonding process, the materials are fused. Nike claims this actually improves the durability of the material over traditional leather, while being lighter at the same time.

Flyleather has been around for about a year now, and debuted with their Tennis Classic silhouette, but their plan is to start using Flyleather in performance shoes pretty soon, too. Due to the increased durability and decreased weight, it’s an ideal material to use for running or other sport shoes.

Leather was initially used for athletic footwear because of its comfort and ability to withstand more punishment than materials like canvas, but fell out of favour in comparison to other high-tech materials like Flyknit in the recent past. This innovative process from Nike might see leather come back to performance athletic equipment and footwear with a bang, though.

The first available options? A host of classic models including the Cortez (retailing for around $110 / around R1,500) – originally a running shoe but now also a fashion staple, harking back to Nike’s athletic roots. But, expect Flyleather to be rolled out across their range over time, particularly making an impact in sport-specific shoes.

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