Last week, we made the trip to Portland for the NWSL final along with a trip to Nike HQ. Nike had several key products on show, including the new 2016 Women’s pack, some fresh SCCRX designs and next season’s Ordem Ball. They also treated us to some time in “THE COOP”, a set of short sided pitches they have pieced together, with the opportunity to test out the latest Nike MagistaX colorway. The weather was perfect and the quick paced games ensured everyone gave their pair (and themselves) a proper workout.
A lot happened right throughout the day, much of it related to questions we had about where Nike are currently situated and where their future focus lies. Here is a breakdown of what went down!
#1 – Heather Flyknit Is Here!
Something that Nike has introduced on the new Women’s pack is Heather Flyknit, a mish-mash color design across the upper of the boot. If you are familiar with Heather design on t-shirts, it is basically a color added to the material before the creation of a garment. On the Mercurial Superfly, a mixed Blue/White Flyknit is used, and since Flyknit is one piece, it adds a completely unusual effect. What makes this process even more intriguing is the fact that each individual pair of boots will have areas where the design will be ever so slightly different from other pairs. Even if it is only minimal, that is pretty cool if you ask me.
One other note here, Nike emphasized the fact that the creation of a boot like the Superfly, where one continuous strand of Flyknit is used, reduces material waste. Thus, there is actually a positive environmental impact with a boot like these.
#2 – Nike Is Serious About Women’s Soccer
Not only did Nike release the second exclusive women’s pack of the year, they also extended their sponsorship of NWSL through 2019. Both set a statement of intent and have an impact on the growth of the game. When you look at the 2016 collection, there are boots there that I can see male players wearing. At the event, we were introduced to the Hypervenom, Superfly and Magista edition, with a new Tiempo slated for release around December. The entire pack will then be released at the beginning of 2016, so there is still time to wait before you can get your hands on a pair!
#3 – SCCRX = Biggest Area of Growth
One of the primary reasons we were at Nike HQ was for the release of the latest SCCRX collection. In particular, a focus was placed on the Fierce Red MagistaX. Through conversation with Nike’s PR Directors, they made it clear that the swoosh sees street soccer as an area with tremendous opportunity for growth. Their goal is to create designs for players that want to have a fashionable shoe during the day, and something you can wear when and where you want to play. Makes sense really.
They also mentioned something about a soon to be released “special project” that will add a completely new dynamic for street soccer. Stay tuned for that!
#4 – Limited Edition Releases Designed to be Disruptive
Over the past 2-3 years, we have seen Nike lead the way in limited edition releases, with pretty much every pair selling out shortly after hitting the market. In line with that, there will be a continued focus on creating LE designs that add a positive disruption to the market. Case in point during the conversation was recent Ronaldinho Tiempo that was released. It sold out in an incredible 4 minutes on soccer.com, and Nike had pair #0001 of #2000 on hand to showcase. Keep them coming we say!
#5 – Blacks Boots Are Now An Anomaly
When you hear a designer say this, it adds a completely new meaning to how you think about Blackout boots. We are familiar with the fact that Black is not the popular choice on boots right now, and Nike said they have a continued focus on creating wild colorful designs that allow players to stand out on pitch.
Through research, youth players say that color is what they want. One quote in specific stood out; “If I score from 30 yards out, I want to do it in a pair of bright boots, not black. I want to be seen.”
#6 – Testing the MagistaX At The COOP
We had the opportunity to play some soccer in “The Coop” and it turned into a real battle. Everyone took to the court in some new Nike MagistaX, all on an even playing field, testing out the best of the best small sided shoes. Some pro-freestylers were shipped in to add to the entertainment, and a bunch of Nike folk jumped in to play. It added an extra element to the mini-tournie that went down, but it was all in fun. Gotta give a shout-out to the soccergrlprobs ladies who impressively dominated their games and earned MVP awards!
#7 – Rules of the COOP
Follow the rules or you can’t play. I figure #5 is probably the most important on the list!
Image via Kicks To The Pitch.
#8 – Nike Ordem for 2016 NWSL Season
Something else we were treated today was a first look at the ball that will be used in the NWSL next season. As of last Thursday, there was only one of these exact balls available, so we got to the see the very first one! You can find the current line-up of balls/colorways at soccer.com.
So what is it that makes Ordem one of the “most advanced” balls ever? It all comes down to Nike Football’s pinnacle proprietary aerodynamic technology, with Nike Aerowtrac grooves, designed to provide an accurate and stable flight by helping ensure a steady flow of air across the ball no matter what speed it is moving at.
#9 – I Wear The Same Size Boot As Neymar
While we were in Berlin with Adidas a few months back, I found out that Messi wore a size 9US. Well, the same is true of his Barca teammate Neymar, who also sports a size 9US. It is safe to say I’m in good company! All was hush when I brought up the topic of Neymar and his recent Hypervenom to Mercurial Vapors change up. Is he switching? I didn’t get a proper answer, but again it is one to watch! PS. The above image has nothing to do with Neymar, but I feel like I did the MagistaX justice!
#10 – Nike Are Definitely On The Right Path
Nike is taking over the women’s market, working to establish the SCCRX collection as a complimentary piece of footwear for youth players, continuing to create limited edition pieces, and they are looking at ways to improve their current set of silos.
One final note, related to the dynamic mid-cut collar. From my experiences, I’d choose the regular cut over mid-cut collar boots. This was something I brought up with Nike’s Director of PR, Charlie Brooks. He was quick to admit that not all pro players have a positive experience with the mid-cuts starting out, and that there are players who have experienced a tougher adjustment to the technology. But, the players that have stuck it out are now at a point where they don’t see themselves switching back to regular cut. As a boot tester, I can’t get too comfy with any pair of shoes – so maybe there is logic to the fact I don’t like wearing them too long!
If you guys have any thoughts or questions about the boots or the actual event, hit up the comments.