Dime Q&A: Behind The Scenes Of Nike’s New Hyper Elite Uniforms

By: 02.28.12
Kobe, LeBron, KD and Deron Williams Team USA

Kobe, LeBron, KD and Deron Williams Team USA (photo. Nike)

Last Tuesday marked day one of the Nike Olympic Innovation Summit in New York City. If you haven’t heard by now, the event was held to introduce Nike’s all new Hyper Elite uniforms for the upcoming Olympic games, as well as new footwear and technology. On Tuesday, Tracy Teague – creative director of Nike Basketball – was in the house to go over the new innovative improvements made to the uniforms, as well as the Hyperdunk.

With a little bit of help from our friend Brian Strong, who did a great job running the event, we were able to chat with Tracy and get even more into detail about the design process, the technology in the Hyperdunk, and what’s planned for the future of Nike Basketball.

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Dime: How do the new uniforms compare to the ones from the previous Olympics?
Tracy Teague: Well the biggest thing is we’ve been able to evolve them over the past four years and just make them amazingly lighter. We started from the ground up with the uniforms, and the players kept telling us they want us to go lighter. We could’ve taken the approach to just make it as light as possible, but at the end of the day, basketball is a sport that requires a lot more than just lightweight. Particularly in footwear, but also in apparel as well. It’s a physical sport. It’s not like running where your on your own and nobody’s gonna touch you. On court apparel has to be durable, it has to be supportive and flexible. So what we’ve done over the past four years is just develop through new materials, with both our footwear and apparel and just make it incredibly light.

If you compare this uniform to where we were in Beijing you’ll find that it’s 58 percent lighter. So through the use of some new materials and just the way we’ve been putting things together we’ve been able to make it significantly lighter. Then you combine that with the Pro Combat stuff these guys are wearing which gives them the protection directly right next to the body. So that also has allowed us to basically make the shorts even more light, because they don’t need to provide the protection that shorts used to. So all of that has allowed us to make an incredibly light uniform.

Dime: Recently I just bought the Hyper Elite Platinum UConn shorts. They’re easily my favorite pair of ball shorts right now. These Olympic shorts feel really similar.
TT: Yeah absolutely. I don’t know if you were here three weeks ago when we unveiled those, but with the Platinum Elite uniforms, the design is a little different, but it’s basically the same uniform. So we used those Platinum Elite teams as sort of a showcase and now three weeks later we’re unveiling these. So yeah, the Platinum Elite uniforms and the Olympic uniforms are pretty much one in the same.

Dime: So tell me a little about the design process how long does it take to develop new uniforms from the previous ones?
TT: Well right now we work in about two year cycles. So we use big global moments to determine when we want to launch our new innovation. So we’ve already begun working on the new version of these to launch at the World Championships in two years come 2014. Then what you’ll see is this uniform – just like the Platinum Elite stuff – roll into college over the next two years. So the next generation of college uniforms will be based off of these. So in two years at the World Championships we’ll introduce the completely new version that will fuel the next wave of college uniforms. So you see how we operate in cycles.

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