With the launch of the 'All Conditions Control' upper the Mercurial Vapor range has once again been revolutionised by Nike. Yet more radically, this update means that in just the fifth instalment of the Vapor VIII we are seeing a third different upper material being used...
Using our exclusive macro photography, we've put the three differing Nike Vapor VIII football boots under the microscope to look and compare material characteristics. It's quite unprecedented to think that purchasing the same boot in different colours, would result in three completely different football boots.
Starting with the most recent, the Retro/Orange/Red Vapor VIII is the first to feature Nike's ACC upper. This was pre-dated by the Seaweed/Volt/Challenge Red and Clash Collection; both featuring the Teijin synthetic leather. Which was an update on the original launch boots of Mango/Grey and Sail/Red, which introduced a new Teijin microfibre material different to the one used on the Vapor VII.
These changes to the upper material are hugely significant, but seem to have slipped under the radar slightly with Nike not making big news of what are radical overhauls. Even the launch of ACC has not focused around the return to the Teijin microfibre material, replacing the synthetic leather. But one thing is clear from viewing our photography, all three upper materials and textures offer different performance characteristics.
There's no official word from Nike as to whether the three updates to the Vapor VIII were pre-planned, which does enable us to speculate somewhat. We know Japanese pharmaceutical company Teijin are responsible for developing the synthetic fibres Nike use for the Vapor upper. Meaning updates to the Vapor could be an almost real-time pass onto the consumer, as the chemical and pharmaceutical industry innovates. Equally, the materials could be being developed at Nike's request, as the Nike designers aim to deliver different performance characteristics.
Looking at the latest release, the ACC story doesn't necessarily focus around the material as it's a special treatment to the upper material in the development stages, and is also used for the Tiempo, CTR360 and T90 Laser. The material offers consistent friction for ball control, and close-up we can see a consistent surface to the ACC Vapor. The texture is one that would have been impossible to recreate on an already textured synthetic leather surface, so it's understandable why Nike might have needed to return to the blank canvas of a microfibre material.
The Teijin synthetic leather was perhaps something in the offing from Nike before the development of ACC, and one they still felt should see the light of day albeit briefly on just two Vapor instalments. In what must be seen as a response to the flourishing lightweight leather performance boots; such as adizero, King SL and Morelia Neo, Nike delivered their own leather-like speed performance. The performance characteristics are there to see, as the material both looks and acts like a leather boot upper.
Both the ACC and synthetic leather are a long way from the Teijin microfibre the Vapor VIII launched with, in itself a radical overhaul from the previous Vapor VII. The microfibre upper has a suede-like finish to increase ball control and touch, and is probably the softest upper the Vapor range had ever seen.
Such fundamental changes to a singular Nike boot are quite unprecedented, but with performance and innovation at the heart of Nike's designing ethos, have surely been made to enhance player performance. And with the choice of three different upper materials and textures locked into one speed silo, there has never been more choice for a Vapor fan.
What are your thoughts on the different Vapor upper materials? We'd love to hear your opinions on why Nike has made such radical updates to their Vapor range, by joining the conversation online, on Twitter and on Facebook.