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Nike Bw Torch (Jesse Leyva Interview)

Date: December 22 2009

By: Sneaker Freaker

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After mashing the Air Max with the Huarache and Current models and using Flywire tech to create the Maxim, Nike's latest innovation is the Torch BW. Torch is actually a 'lightweight, moisture-managing, 3-layer textile' which when used on sneakers, means the upper is sonic welded and free from stitching. Torch also creates a svelte, super light, ultra-modern aesthetic that vanishes the vintage veneer of the original big window and also fits with Nike's Considered principles by being more efficient to make. We caught up with Jesse Leyva from Nike to shine a little light on Torch! As seen in Issue 17 of Sneaker Freaker

It seems like a lot of stuff that’s been happening at Nike recently has been rolled into this new Torch concept.
Yeah, it’s almost like the best of everything. It’s really the culmination of all the different things we’ve done lately – from the Air Max 90
Current and even before that with the Trainer Dunk Low and the Air Maxim 1 – all those shoes played a part in how the Gen II BW looks
and works.

You’ve reduced the shoe down to a pretty minimal construction...
Weight reduction was a big part of it and was inspired by what the Nike soccer design team has been doing with the Mercurial Vapor boot. They were looking at shaving weight by reducing materials but still keeping that sharp, contemporary look. Just removing the collar foams alone helped reduced weight and then from a tooling standpoint, the original BW has a heavy polyurethane midsole.
Now we’re using Cushlon which is super light. The craftsmanship we’ve learnt over the years has been incorporated into our best practices.

Tell me about the Torch material? It looks like it almost came from the apparel guys.
It didn’t come from apparel, but there was some stuff done with bags in the Nike kitchen at a prototype stage that definitely inspired what Torch ended up becoming. And then the footwear inspiration jumped off with the diamond pattern from the Rejuvenate Olympic project, which were the shoes that help athletes recover after sport.

Can you describe how the material works? It’s actually three layers right?
Yeah it’s a three layer material all welded together which meant we were able to maximise comfort, support and structure. Torch is
something you’ll see across multiple styles at Nike. So with the base Max 90 model, we now have the Huarache 90, the Moire 90 and the
Flywire 90. And with this Torch technology, we wanted to start with the BW and then take Torch across all the Nike franchises including
Air Force 1.

How is the Air Maxim 1 Torch we’ve seen different to the BW?
It’s totally different, because the Air Maxim 1 has Flywire, whereas the BW uses no-sew construction, where the goal is to remove as many stitches as possible. However they both feature the Torch material.

The original BW is famous for the persian colourway. I was intrigued as to why you went with an upper that’s a single colour?
Well we are doing the original persian colour, it’s just that we want to launch Torch across multiple styles and take away the colour and
let the materials be the story. As the shoes roll out, you’ll see the original colours revealed down the track.

Good to hear. I’m sure that’ll keep the kids happy. How does Considered apply to this project? Is it simply a more efficient production method?
From a Considered standpoint, we looked at everything from using green rubbers to the way the pattern is laser cut as opposed to hand cut, as well as the materials which we’re sourcing and the removal of certain layers. Torch is a three layer system instead of four of five layers on a traditional shoe. If we were to really go through and spec it out, I could show you exactly how much better we are at manufacturing these days. That wasn’t the goal of the project as such, but we didn’t take our eye off Considered either.

Thanks Jesse!

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