Nike’s Hannah Jones (CSO & VP of the Innovation Accelerator) gave a talk at the V&A titled “Sustainability in a Commercial World” to open the new Fashioned by Nature exhibition. As I think you will agree this is a talk not to be missed and it lived up to all my expectations.

For those of you that haven’t come across Hannah before, she has worked for the Sports giant for nearly 18 years, and is responsible for driving their business & innovation models. Her and her team have a big goal insight, which is to design new products with sustainable solutions at the forefront of every decision they make. Something which they are already achieving.

Sustainability is not a new thing for Nike. For decades they have been working on, and improving, their internal processes, materials (of which they 75,000!) and ways they work with their supply factories. To show how committed they are to reducing their effect on the world they had a big goal in mind. “What if we doubled the business whilst halfing our footprint?”. On top of this, they are willing to share any non-competitive R&D that helps others. They have already worked closely with some of their biggest competitors on improving conditions and manufacturing process in their shared supply factories.

One interesting fact that Hannah gave was that “it takes 2,700 litres of water to create 1 T-Shirt”. That’s not limited to Nike’s T-shirts either, that’s any T-Shirt.

What if we designed to a limited carbon budget? To do this is to create the future

Hannah Jones. Nike.

“Waste is gold”. That’s how Hannah sees it and this way of thinking has driven some great things at Nike. She had this great way of explaining recycling and it was around “Closing the loops”. If they closed a loop on a material or product it means it can now be recycled and that means that something that was waste is now gold. It’s doesn’t just mean a tee can be broken down and made in to a new Tee either. Did you know that you can take any piece of footwear (it doesn’t have to be Nike) and they turn it in to Nike Grind, a material used to create athletic and playground surfaces such as basketball courts.

There was so much interesting information in this talk and I would highly recommend you get a seat next time she’s in town doing another. I do want to leave you on one last point she made, and a few facts. Hannah drives innovation with “What If’s” and this was one she put out to everyone on the night. “What if we designed to a limited carbon budget? To do this is to create the future”. I think this is an interesting thought and concept to get your mind thinking and one that all brand and fashion companies should be thinking about.

Facts from the night:

  • 70% of Nike’s materials are made from recycled fabric in some form
  • Nike have already used 4 billion plastic bottles to make their clothing
  • Creating Nike’s Flyleather uses 90-percent less water and has an 80-percent lower carbon footprint than traditional leather manufacturing
  • A pair of Nike Flyleather shoes has approximately half the carbon footprint compared to shoes made with traditional leather
  • Because Nike Flyleather is produced on a roll, it improves cutting efficiency and creates less waste than traditional cut-and-sew methods for full-grain leather
  • Flyleather is 40% lighter and more breathable than traditional leather, great news for athletes!