This penchant for exploration led the Nike design team to Japan. There it partnered with Yuko Kanatani, marking Nike's first collaboration with an independent artist for the Tight of the Moment project.
“Yuko’s fun, playful and exciting style of art was something we found quite special,” says Kelly Tweeden, the Vice President of Global Design for Nike Women’s Training.
The collaboration yields a collection of three tights that will debut beginning late January 2014. The first of these is the Nike Tight of the Moment-Magical Kaleidoscope. Its bright and bold pattern is a natural extension of the colorful work Yuko creates. However, the project’s design process pushed the Tokyo-based artist well outside her comfort zone.
“At the beginning of the project, needing to match my drawings to a moving body was quite a hurdle,” Yuko says. “But it was also very inspiring and interesting to have outside direction and try something new.”
Yuko was asked to tailor her illustrations to a body map provided by the Nike Sport Research Lab. A body map uses athlete-informed data to show the location of an individual’s muscles and heating and cooling zones. Using this as her compass, Yuko created three-dimensional drawings to match these key areas of the body.
For example, the NTM-Magical Kaleidoscope features pops of colors and shapes aimed to highlight leg muscles in a flattering fashion. Digital sublimation technology, which employs a heat press to send ink from a printed picture onto a piece of fabric, transferred Yuko’s art onto the tights.
To picture a body in motion, Yuko looked to the circus, envisioning a fantastically colorful environment rich with movement and music. Yuko used colored pencils to bring this vision to life.
“Performance is typically achieved through science,” Yuko says. “But mood impacts performance as well, and since visuals influence one’s mood, I looked to create colorful and cheerful artwork. I wanted to lift the spirits, and thus the performance, of those wearing the tights.”
Yuko’s dynamic aesthetic complements the tight’s performance attributes. Soft Nike Dri-FIT fabric pulls sweat away from the skin to help keep athletes dry and comfortable.
The NTM-Magical Kaleidoscope comes in two Nike Pro styles, the Nike Pro Tight and Nike Pro Sports Bra. The print will also be featured on the Nike Studio Wrap Pack. The NTM-Magical Kaleidoscope will be available in select retailers and on Nike.com in China and Sweden beginning Jan. 28 and globally on Jan. 31. The collection's remaining two designs will roll out in the coming months.
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