Nike + Yuko Kanatani

We interrupt this New York Fashion Week with news of a sportswear collaboration that I find to be absolutely brilliant. Nike—king of great branding—looked to Japan for inspiration for its most recent concept for the Nike Tight of the Moment line. The premise behind the franchise as a whole is an “exercise in exploration…through experimentation with unique patterns, colors and inspirations…elevat[ing] the intersection of athletic performance and artistic design.” Yuko Kanatani‘s work, which is quite playful and colorful, married perfectly with this mission, leading Nike to tap Kanatani to design three new tights, marking the brand’s first collaboration with an independent artist for the line.

The directive from the brand, however, was more than just to design any old pattern. Instead, the artist was asked to tailor her illustrations to a “body map,” which uses athlete-informed data to show the location of an individual’s muscles and heating and cooling zones.  The first of the three designs, “Nike Tight of the Moment-Magical Kaleidoscope,” features pops of colors and shapes aimed to highlight leg muscles in a flattering fashion (you can read about her inspiration here). As if the collaboration weren’t already technical enough, Nike then used digital sublimation technology, which employs a heat press to send ink from a printed picture onto a piece of fabric, to transfer Yuko’s art onto the tights.

The Magical Kaleidoscope was just released a few weeks ago, and is available in the Nike Pro Tight and Nike Pro Sports Bra in select stores and online. The remaining two designs from the collaboration will be released in the upcoming months. For now, check out the amazing campaign shots below.

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