Traditional full grain leathers have been a staple of the shoe industry for centuries. While, leather still reigns king in some categories of shoes it has been pushed out by newer, lighter, and cheaper materials in other categories. However, Nike has created Flyleather, which is a sustainable and luxurious leather product which is also durable and light. Nike Flyleather is made of genuine recycled leather fused with synthetic parts that create the most advanced leather-like material ever. Nike has used Design Thinking to change the shoe game. Hannah Jones, the Nike Chief of Sustainability Officer and VP of the Innovation Accelerator says, “The earth is the athlete’s biggest playground, so one of our greatest opportunities is to create breakthrough products while protecting our planet, Nike Flyleather is an important step toward ensuring athletes always have a place to enjoy sport.”
Flyleather is the lowest carbon-footprint leather material ever produced. Unlike traditional manufacturing where one-third of the cows hide ends up in a landfill, Nike gathers real leather scrap from tanneries and turns them into fibers. The fibers are combined with synthetic ones in a hydro process that turn them into one new material. The finished product can now be pigmented and put on even rolls to be cut. The end result is Flyleather.
Identical to the real thing, but better
Flyleather is identical to genuine leather and feels like it too. As reported on their website, “Nike Flyleather completely mimics athletic, pigmented full-grain leathers in everything from fit to touch,” says Tony Bignell, Nike VP of Footwear Innovation. “Unlike with traditional leathers, Flyleather can be produced with a consistent grade across a broader range of product.”
The traditional leather is Nike’s second highest environmental impact item. The innovation of Flyleather solves that. Creating Flyleather uses 90% less water and results in an 80% lower carbon footprint than traditional leather. A finished pair of shoes made of Flyleather has half the carbon-footprint of shoes made of conventional leather. Additionally, Flyleather comes in roles which improve cutting efficiency and diminishes waste. “Nike believes in science, and that climate change is real,” says Jones. “That’s why Flyleather is a game-changer. As we witness the impact of climate change, the world is getting after a low-carbon economy, and Nike is innovating it.”
Flyleather impresses from a performance aspect as well because it is 40% lighter and 5x as durable. Leather has been considered obsolete for use in sport shoes for quite some time as synthetics have taken over for their light weight and cost efficiency. Flyleather might mean leather will be brought back more and more in fields where it was previously considered outdated.
Now Available for the Public
The first product to feature Flyleather is the Nike Flyleather Tennis Classic, which is a new version of a classic court shoe. The shoe’s release date was September 18th and was available only in white/white for $85. More models that include Flyleather are expected to release in the near future. If you want to make a positive difference in the health of our planet and are considering purchasing a new pair of shoes, buy a pair with Nike Flyleather today.