When we shared the new Nike Nigeria, USA and South Korea kits on Twitter after they dropped, a lot of the response was singing the praises of Nigeria's design and a lot of it was disappointment among Americans over their home kit. But one section of people seemed to focus on the boots on the models' feet. It's the Mercurial silo but in a way we've never seen before.
The new boots from Nike are a concept boot, including many football firsts. Introducing the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial. In 1995, Nike revealed a brand new piece of footwear technology called Zoom Air which was for cushioning and responsiveness. 25 years on, we see this infiltrate football, properly, for the first time even though Nike Football experimented with Air Bags a while back. However, that was not to this degree.
The boot is futuristic looking. It's a tech monster with a lot of stuff going on. A full length Zoom Air bag features on the boot, with the chassis of the boot being built around it. This piece of technology has been installed onto this silo for enhanced energy return and a extremely unique underfoot feel. It'll provide increased responsiveness for the wearer, something which is key for modern game.
Discussing the aesthetic of the boot, it's futuristic as mentioned. But one interesting feature of it is that the Zoom Air bag, whilst incredibly functional, provides inspiration for the overall aesthetic of the boot. The images of the boot during the new kit release look to be an R&D edition, but provide an interesting insight into the boot. Nike have revealed, following the kits, a colourway edition of the boot, which comes in a darker colour combined with a bright green.
Honing in on the fascinating technology placed on the boot, it features, for the first time in football, a Flyprint upper. Basically, Flyprint is Nike's 3D-printed textile used on their Zoom Vapour Elite Flyknit, their running trainer. Seeing this come to football is interesting because just how does it benefit a player? Well, this is another stage in Nike's development of offering materials that achieve remarkable performance based solutions, following on from the likes of Hyerpfuse, Flywire and Flyknit. The Flyprint technique allows designers to translate athlete data into a textile structure to be used on the athletes footwear.
A benefit of 3D textiles over 2D is that it offers tighter yarns and a greater potential for precision-tuned containment due to greater fused intersections than knit or woven textiles. The overall fusion of the material provides a large return. As normal, Nike use their revolutionary All Conditions Control (ACC) across the boot to combat weather conditions.
Nike have made sure this introduction of Flyprint sees it adjusted to suit the needs of the game. This includes reinforcement in the correct areas to enhance performance.
You didn't come here for the Flyprint information, did you? The showstopper is the introduction of Zoom Air bags and how they influence the boot. The boot features a 4.5mm Zoom Air bag and it's focus is to be responsive, rather than act as a cushion. Players don't play on their heels, they look to be sharp off the mark and faster than their opponent. This responsiveness from the air bag can add the edge to a player's performance in order to achieve that.
Taking style points from the iconic Air Max, the Zoom Air bag is visible on the underfoot of the boot and is even exposed and touchable in one area. An admirable fact about the Air bag technology on the boot is that it's among the most sustainable. Since 2008, Nike's sole innovations contain around 50% of recycled waste and Flyprint is also a sustainable method. An ode to this is paid on the instep: “Structure printed as a single strand = Zero Waste.”
The boot is truly admirable. It's a technology monster, using tech that football has never seen before. The introduction of the Zoom Air bags is an alluring one, and it'd be great to try these on feet and get first hand experience of how it feels. Normally, technology on a boot provides very, very minimal aid to performance but this all sounds impressive from the Swoosh. The aesthetic of the boot is also good, with the Nike Swoosh sliding down to touch the soleplate.
It's bravo to Nike, I guess. They've smashed it with their new kits and this boot looks to take the game to the next level through their multiple innovations. I wonder what is next.