On June 14 in the West Village, despite the fact the entire neighborhood was on lockdown due to Sarah Jessica Parker and Anna Wintour's Obama fundraiser nearby, Nike unveiled their new track and field uniforms for Team USA with the help of some marquis names of their own: Olympic legends Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner Kersee and Michael Johnson (he of the golden shoes). The new uniforms are red, a departure from the traditional blue, a color that says power, according to Kersee. "Whatever lane we’re in we’re going to pop, we’re going to power off those blocks and hey, here we come team USA," she said. Lewis added that the color will pop on TV, especially in high definition.
There are lots of new changes to the uniform in addition to the shift to red. These uniforms benefit from the technology of Nike's Project Swift program which seeks to create garments to "maximize athlete velocity." These new unis have withstood over 1,000 hours in a wind tunnel. Just as golf balls are dimpled to fly through the air as fast as can be, these uniforms are dimpled to "reduce the aerodynamic drag of the athlete." Cool cut outs on the backs of the uniforms are actually strategically placed to make unitards and singlets as aerodynamic as possible.
And they didn't always used to be like that. "You know when I started with Nike in 1990, it was um, a long time ago and they only had heavy singlets and shorts," Lewis recalled. "It's a huge difference and makes it feel much better when you run."
The uniforms are skin tight and, in the ladies' case, just plain tiny. Like a sporty bikini almost. Which Kersee said is a good thing, as long as there's no "creeping." "Less fabric is better," said Kersee. "As long as it’s gripping in the right places, especially when you’re at the starting block, it makes a difference--you know, as an athlete you try to focus on exploding off the block, you don’t want your uniform creeping and Nike has done a great job making sure that it’s not creeping, especially on women." We think that's advice every designer should heed.
Click through to see more photos of Nike's new track and field uniforms for Team USA.