See Nike’s rad uniforms for skateboarding’s Olympics debut


For the primary time in historical past, skate boarders are headed to the Olympics. The Tokyo Video games will function skaters from all over the world doing gnarly tips on a newly constructed skate park.

Nike was tapped to design the kits for america, Japan, France, and Brazil. All the outfits function a burst of colour, with shirts and tank tops coated in graphic patterns that characterize the panorama of every nation. With these kits, Nike’s design crew is trying to seize the game’s renegade, antiestablishment spirit. However it’s unclear whether or not they’ll assist quell the fears of some skateboarders who fear that the Olympics might contribute to a extra company and institutionalized skateboarding tradition.

The Worldwide Olympics Committee has acknowledged how essential skateboarding is to younger folks all over the world and in an effort to draw in younger audiences, it’s inviting skaters to participate on this 12 months’s Olympics. That creates a paradox for skaters and their followers: How do you are taking a basically rebellious sport, born on metropolis streets, and embed it within the shiny, corporately sponsored world of the Olympics?

[Photos: Nike]

That grew to become considered one of Nike’s central design challenges: Nike needed to create uniforms for athletes who hate uniformity. The answer was to develop a glance for every federation, whereas additionally giving skaters sufficient room to create their very own custom-made kits.


Nike’s relationship with the skating neighborhood goes again a number of a long time. (Within the ’80s and ’90s, some skaters even wore Air Jordans and Blazers.) And in 2002, the corporate launched Nike SB, its official skateboarding division, and launched the SB Dunk, a basketball silhouette that was reengineered to satisfy the particular wants of skaters, together with a rubber sole with good traction. Slightly than promoting the sneakers in flagship Nike shops, Nike SB distributes merchandise at unbiased skate retailers, and likewise collaborates with manufacturers like Supreme and Diamond Provide Co. that attraction to the skating neighborhood.

The Olympic uniforms have been a dream venture for Donavan Harris, the Nike designer who spearheaded the kits, as a result of he began skateboarding on the age of 6 and stored skating via school. Rising up, he says skating was diametrically against organized sports activities at school. “It’s all about individuality and expression,” he says.

[Photo: Nike]

So the Nike crew created a wide range of merchandise that skaters may combine and match to create distinctive outfits. For every federation, Nike designers created 5 shirt types, tights, shorts, monitor fits, socks, and 5 completely different sorts of hats. Some are available stable colours and others in loud prints. “The cool factor is every skater can undergo the catalog and create their very own look,” he says. “They might go fully stable or cowl themselves in wild prints. Some would possibly put on a stable outfit, however do a patterned hat and socks.”

To create the sample for every nation, Nike tapped Piet Parra, a Dutch skater turned artist. Collectively Harris and Parra went on a analysis journey to Japan to create outfits that will pay homage to the nation. They stopped by skate retailers and skate parks to take a look at the road fashion of Japanese skate boarders. They have been additionally impressed by conventional Japanese artwork, like the enduring panorama work of mountains, clouds, and cherry bushes. They beloved the brilliant colours that adorn kimonos.

Parra took all of this in and created his personal, modernized model of landscapes in vibrant Pantone colours. From a distance, the photographs appear like summary artwork, however whenever you take a more in-depth look, you may see the Eiffel tower on the France package and the hills surrounding Rio de Janeiro within the Brazil package.

Nike invited skaters from the 4 international locations to go to the headquarters throughout the design course of. Collectively they determined it made sense for every federation to have a novel chicken icon to represent the spirit of every nation: a crane for Japan, an eagle for the U.S., a rooster for France, and a toucan for Brazil. “Birds are essential to riders as a result of their aim is to fly via the air,” Harris says.


In these conversations, the Nike crew additionally bought to speak to the skaters about what they wanted from their clothes to carry out at their greatest. Warmth was a serious concern: The skating occasion will happen exterior within the hottest a part of the day within the warmest, most humid month within the Japanese calendar. The shirts are made with woven yarns that wick moisture and the backs of the shirts have minute bumps on them that stop the material from clinging to the pores and skin. “From a distance, we needed the outfits to appear like what a skater would sometimes put on, however up shut, at a micro stage, we needed to embed the garments with the most effective know-how Nike has to supply,” Harris says.