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Why Nike Is Working With Karlie Kloss

Nike typically chooses athletes over fashion models to front its seasonal campaigns. So why Karlie Kloss?

Nike unveiled its spring/summer 2015 women's collection in New York City on Wednesday, which kicked off with a presentation from Nike CEO Mark Parker and a small runway presentation with more than two dozen of the female athletes Nike sponsors — plus models Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Damaris Lewis and Jeneil Williams.

Nike has worked with a number of fashion models in its 50-year history but never, so far as we can recall, on the scale it has worked with Kloss, who fronts Nike's fall campaign and has populated her own Instagram feed with many a Nike shot as of late. "We will always work with the amazing athletes, first and foremost," Amy Montagne, vice president and general manager of Nike's women's division, said in an interview with Fashionista after the runway presentation. "But we also work with women who are connected to sport and fitness. And models like Karlie have that strong connection to sport and fitness."

"We've had some models, not had a model muse for example, like some designers do," a spokesperson added. "It's more that models have appeared in the campaign. But it's not a big focus for us, you're not seeing this model and that model again and again and again. The interesting thing about Karlie is that she is that athlete woman. Her fitness is not a diet fitness, it is an exercise fitness, it's a strength." Adds Montagne: "She's authentic."

Kloss studied ballet when she was younger, and practices it still, alongside regular yoga, ModelFit classes, running and — of course — Nike Training Club workouts. And it's not just her long and muscled physique, arguably, that make her a fit for Nike: She has also smartly branded herself as an athlete, frequently posting well-composed shots of her workouts on Instagram. Models wanting to land athleticwear campaigns for themselves should take note.

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