International football is a multi-billion dollar industry that produces a tournament watched by an estimated 2.2 billion people, with 750 million tuning in for the World Cup Final 4 years ago in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is no surprise that the team here at Markets For Good is gripped with football fever. This led us to the discovery that Nike have taken a new, data centric approach to jersey design, that we thought we just had to share with our readers.
According to Liz Stinson, writing for Wired, Team USA is not only outpacing expectation on the pitch, but has taken a leap forward in kit design. She reports that “the crisp, white jersey looks pretty standard, classic even. But there are some smart data-driven design details that allow the jerseys to adapt from one temperature to another.”
It’s no secret that the heat in Brazil is considered a big factor in every team’s preparation and eventual success (or downfall). As such, Nike, sponsors of the USA kit, set out to design a jersey that would help ease the burden on their athletes. “It was about, how do we design against these rather different temperatures they might be facing?” says Martin Lotti, Nike’s creative director for football. “The answer was loads of data points and a lot of research.”
Lotti and his team tested the jerseys in a simulated climate chamber, making a sweat map of the human body.
Unsurprisingly, their research was beneficiary focused, drawing data from athletes in climate chambers to establish which parts of the body sweat the most. As a result of their work, they established that “the key is to make players feel like they’re almost wearing nothing at all. It becomes more like a second skin than a jersey.”
The result of this new data driven approach is “the jerseys are 16 percent lighter and have 66 percent more ventilation than the previous versions” and given the performances to the USA team, it looks to be having an effect.
Given the considerable investments made in football, and Nike’s desire to increase revenue and brand profile, it is no wonder they are utilising every single piece of data they can get their hands on to drive innovation and improvements. With an eye on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and even greater temperatures than Brazil, Nike have set the standard, and we at Markets For Good eagerly await to see where better data takes us next.