High Tech Uniform Designs Propel Olympians to Gold

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2012 Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross takes the Gold in a Nike Pro TurboSpeed Kit. Otis College of Art and Design alumnus Scott Williams on Nike sport innovation and Olympic apparel.

Engineered to the exact specifications of championship athletes

Nike’s 2012 Olympic Track and Field Team Apparel carries the tag, “Engineered to the exact specifications of championship athletes,” and Sanya Richards-Ross, the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal Champion in the 400-meter, was wearing a Nike Pro TurboSpeed kit as she crossed the finish line.

Scott Williams, a graduate of Otis College of Art and Design, is Nike’s Creative Director of Sport Innovation and Olympics, and he recently spoke with the editors of Cool Hunting about Nike’s fastest uniforms to date.

The culmination of 12 years of research and more than 1,000 hours of wind tunnel testing, the new streamlined Olympic Kit is what Nike calls a “zero distraction” garment. Scanning technology maps of athletes’ bodies to the nearest millimeter ensured that the uniforms fit like a second skin. Using what Nike calls “Zoned Aerodynamics” to redirect air in targeted areas, the garment works like the surface of a golf ball, with dimpled swaths of “AeroSwift” fabric used to “trip” air on the limbs, which can reach speeds of up to 47 MPH at peak performance. The full-body tracksuit actually adds speed to the skin.

Williams explained that Nike studied hundreds of textures when designing the uniforms, focusing on aesthetics, aerodynamics, and environmental sustainability. The impressive results marry form and function from a detailed data-driven process. The seamless look accentuates the physique, and white patches on the arms and legs of the uniforms will flicker at high speeds giving spectators an added visual.

Among many other projects, Scott Williams has been involved with the Nike Innovation Team of sportswear designers who came up with the so-called "Pre-Core Vest," intended to lower an athlete's core body temperature before long races. The vest debuted at the 2004 Olympics, and has been an evolving technological concept since its introduction.

In 2002, Williams returned to Otis College of Art and Design as a mentor for students in the Fashion Design Department, sharing his cutting-edge design skills and knowledge base, and instructing students in the finer points of designing for a leading innovator in materials research and apparel construction. Scott mentored students again this past year on a project designing prototypes for running, beach volleyball, and basketball apparel for the London 2012 Olympics.

Fashion Design BFA Program
The Fashion Design Department at Otis trains students in all aspects of the design process, offering a fully accredited BFA degree. The school year follows the industry schedule and several seasons are designed simultaneously. Working with professional mentors, students learn far more than the skills needed to sew and draw: they experience all facets of the industry, and they learn to meet deadlines with creativity and self-discipline. Otis Fashion alumni enter the design world as assistant designers, associate designers, illustrators, costume designers, textile designers, accessory designers, and product designers. Some open their own clothing line immediately upon graduation.

About Otis College of Art and Design
Founded in Los Angeles in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design prepares diverse students of art and design to enrich the world through their creativity, their skill, and their vision. The College offers an interdisciplinary education for 1200 full-time students, awarding BFA degrees in Advertising, Architecture/Landscape/Interiors, Digital Media, Fashion Design, Illustration, Graphic Design, Product Design, Painting, Photography, Sculpture/New Genres, and Toy Design; and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. Continuing Education offers certificate programs as well as personal and professional development courses. Additional information is available at http://www.otis.edu.

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John Axtell, Media Relations
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