How Nike won gold in the fashion Olympics with Martin Lotti’s Volt shoe

At a press event at the Nike athletes’ hospitality suite at the British Medical Association, I was told that there are secretive corridors at Nike HQ, where its genius geeks experiment in their out-of-bounds labs. Performance materials, electronic fitness monitoring equipment, future fashion hero products, they’re all thought up and figured out here, possibly years before coming to market. A case in point: Nike’s brainwave neon Volt shoes*, which shod a number of gold-winning Olympians these past 2 weeks. Although Adidas were the main sponsors, Nike scored it’s own coup by choosing a colour, not a logo or a name, to catch the eyes of the global audience.

“Of all the colors of the rainbow, the human eye and visual system is most sensitive to the yellow/green zone,” says Nike spokesman Brian Strong (source: NBC). “The power of this visual signal is capitalized on when the background is highly contrasting, which the London Olympic track is – reddish. The human eye has relatively low sensitivity to red vs. much higher sensitivity to Volt color.”

It’s doubly clever when you think how readily this links to fashion trends. Neons are always in and out of fashion and if they’re in now, I can guarantee they’ll be even more ‘in’ by next summer. We’ve all been gripped by Olympics fever; if you’re going to dip a toe or a foot in the sportswear trend, you may as well do it in neon Nikes, no?

Nike Flyknit Racer

Nike Air Max 1

Nike Air Max 90 Hyperfuse

*UPDATE: Read more on how Martin Lotti (Nike’s global creative director for the Olympics) created the Volt shoes here