Sports brand Nike has debuted a new range of products, including a football boot with mud-proof soles and garments studded with tiny silicone fins to make athletes more aerodynamic (+ slideshow).
Nike's AntiClog Traction sole is designed to tackle the problem of playing football on muddy ground, when wet soil often clogs up the cleats (or studs) on the sole and weighs down the wearer.
"The beautiful game is never played in beautiful conditions," Max Blau, Nike vice president of football footwear told Dezeen. "Mud can add 50 per cent to the weight of the boot, seriously impacting performance."
"This has been around since cleated footwear started in the 1900s," he said. "It could mean the difference between winning and losing. Mud is the enemy of traction and speed, and that is why we're taking it out of the game."
The sole has a plate made from a material Nike described as an "adaptive polymer that becomes compliant when exposed to water." Essentially, the sole becomes so slippery that mud can't cling to it.
"We stopped thinking about repelling water and started thinking about using it to our advantage to create a lubricious layer, without sacrificing traction," said Jeremy Walker, senior materials developer at Nike.
"Understanding the molecular structure of mud was key to developing a hydrophilic solution, which helps keep mud from clogging the plate."
The brand will release a limited range of boots featuring the AntiClog soles via its Nike Football App on 15 April.
Video showing players' responses to the AntiClog football boots
Nike also debuted its AeroSwift sports clothing, made from a knitted fabric that uses recycled polyester.
AeroSwift fabric is designed to help draw more sweat away from the wearer's body while remaining lightweight, and can be knitted in thicker layers to provide more support.
The AeroSwift fabric has been used to create Nike Vapor Football, Nike Vapor Basketball and Nike Vapor Track and Field kits for athletes ahead of this year's Olympic games in Rio.
The track and field clothing has more supportive sections, pairing a four-way stretch knit with engineered mesh fabric, and also incorporates Nike Aeroblades.
Produced as a result of wind-tunnel testing, Nike Aeroblades are small, flexible silicone fins incorporated into sections of fabric that have been designed to reduce the drag experienced by an athlete as air passes over and around their body.
"As counterintuitive as it sounds, we added texture to a suit to make it faster," Nike creative director Martin Lotti told Dezeen. "You would think smooth equals fast but that is actually not the case. If you look at a golf ball, it’s not smooth, it has texture. It cuts through the air more efficiently with texture."
The yellow silicon nubs are clustered on athlete's vests, shorts and socks. "The forearms and the lower legs move twice as fast through the air than the rest of the body, so that’s why the concentration of Aeroblades is much higher in those areas," Lotti said.
"They literally create air channels when the athlete runs that helps them propel forward and go faster."
The track and field kits will be used by teams from the US, Brasil, Germany and China.
Nike said that the Vapor Football kits, which use the same fabric for the shorts and the jerseys, would wick sweat from the skin 20 per cent faster than its previous designs, dry 25 per cent faster, and be 10 per cent lighter.
"We did extensive research with players on what their ultimate future uniform would entail, and themes started to emerge around fit, breathability and a superhero aesthetic," said Lotti. "We got right down to the filament level and re-mastered it for a texturised surface that helps disband moisture better."
Some areas of the clouting have a double layer of knitted fabric for structure and some have a single layer for "breathability".
The latter would previously have been created by laser cutting holes into the material, but AeroSwift allows the designers to build this in with no cutting required.
"We learned a lot – and were very inspired by – Nike Flyknit and how it has advanced footwear," added Lotti, referring to the brand's knitted trainer upper technology, which launched in 2012 and spawned a series of copycats.
"We took a similar approach to these garments and then took it to another level for a full body in motion under a variety of conditions," he said.
Bespoke versions have been designed for the national teams that will use the kits for the Olympics, with words relating to national mottos or slogans revealed when the sleeves are flipped up, as well as the team's crest on the chest and a "pride point" inside that players will see as they dress.
The England kit has the words "three" and "lions" inside the sleeves.
Nike said that its Nike Vapor Basketball kits were "35 per cent more breathable" than its previous designs. They feature iridescent mesh names, and numbers that appear and disappear as players move.
Other new product releases form the event include NikeGrip anti-slip sports socks, a range of Nike trainers that will now be available with Flyknit uppers and an update to the classic Nike Air sneaker, which was first released in 1987.
Called the Nike Air VaporMax, the sneaker now has a standalone outsole containing the layer of air pockets that cushion the sole, and comes with a Flyknit upper.
"Where previous Air units had to be insulated by a secondary rubber layer for protection and improved durability, new innovation allows designers to incorporate the Air and exterior layer into one holistic VaporMax Air unit," explained Nike. "And where previous units needed to be shaped with inflexible structural areas, the new unit can independently maintain its given form, with elasticity."