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Nike's New App Focused on Sustainability

The app, called Making, has been created to help apparel designers make informed decisions about sustainability.

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LONDON — Nike has launched a new app that aims to help guide apparel designers to make informed decisions on materials based on sustainability. The tool is free to download from iTunes now and has been created to guide designers through four environmental impact areas: water, energy, chemistry and waste, as well as whether the material uses recycled or organic content.

The data have been drawn from Nike’s Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) over the last seven years and is presented in a clear format that offers direct comparisons and fast insights on how different materials stack up on a sustainable level.

“Waste is the new gold,” said the brand’s vice president of sustainable business and fashion Hannah Jones at the app’s London  launch. “It’s a new way of thinking. Eight years ago, sustainability was considered one of the world’s great innovation challenges. It was always seen as a bit ‘granola’, a bit less. There’d be a compromise on performance and maybe you’d have to pay more. So we told our designers to create without any compromise to innovation or performance. At the 2012 Olympics, 58 gold medals were won by athletes in sustainable apparel.”

The brand has been a pioneer in the field of sustainable apparel manufacture. It uses recycled polyester in performance apparel, including soccer kit; it has saved 1.1 billion plastic bottles from landfill by turning it into recycled polyester; and reduced its Greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent in the last ten years, while doubling its business.

Nike teamed with the London College of Fashion for the launch to collect additional insight and feedback during the development of MAKING.  It invited students to work on a capsule collection of athletic uniforms for the Brazil 2016 Olympic games. "The app really helped us identify materials that have a lower impact on the environment, without compromising the design process," said Alasdair Leighton-Crawford, a London College of Fashion graduate and former professional cyclist. "Making shows that sustainability is not a limit, but an inspiring new way to look at product creation."

“As a designer, it’s very useful to have,” said Nike sports wear apparel designer Niloufar Mozafari. “This is empowering information. I can make informed decisions rather than just based on what a material feels like. And the look of the app is very simple, it appeals to my visual way of thinking.”

While the app currently only features 22 of the most commonly used fabrics in apparel, ranked out of 50 according to the MSI, there are plans to introduce sections for footwear materials.