Earlier this month Nike Football took over Paris to stir up some Women's World Cup hype with a showpiece innovation event to launch the kits of all 14 Nike competing nations. Each kit, home and away, for every team is completely bespoke and different to the men's sides. A significant move, and one that Sr. PLM of Nike Global Football, Cassie Looker, spoke to us about.

Cassie, this event is huge for Nike and women’s football. Does it feel like a landmark moment?

It does feel like a landmark moment, and I think that we continue to progress in terms of female sports, so I think this is a really exciting moment for us to showcase the great stories of each of the federations. But then also there’s the fit that we have, that we’ve been working on for the past three years. We’ve been working with the Nike research lab, having elite footballers come in from across the globe and I think we’ve landed in a really great space with a really great product for each of the athletes that’s going to take to the pitch in France.

The women’s game is in such a progressive era right now. As a leading brand, do Nike feel a responsibility to progress the sport?

Yeah, we feel like we’ve been supporting women’s sports for the past 40 years and we continue to do that. Everything for us starts and ends with the athlete and they take us in new spaces that we could never think of before. I think this is no different as we go into this event. It’s just a way for us to continue to get better and better.

Each kit is bespoke for their nation, different to the men's editions. Is this a strong statement?

It is a big moment. These teams have different identities, even to their male compatriots. I think it’s really going back to listening to athletes and listening to what they want and I think they really led us into this new space in creating these bespoke kits.


How closely did you work with each nation and with the players to create these kits?

We have a team of people that’s dedicated to each of those federations and we have designers that focus on each of the federations so they can really take the time to get to know the federation, the country, the supporters, and the players, and really take all that information to curate these stories that you see in front of you.

In the 2018 men’s World Cup we saw so much success from experimental designs, like the Nigeria one. Have you seen more hunger for stuff like that since?

Yeah, absolutely. I think anytime you can bring that energy and that storytelling it really draws people in. I think that for World Cup 2018, Nigeria was everyone’s second federation that they supported, so we can see that here too. Some of the more energetic graphics, maybe like on Australia, maybe you can see that become everyone’s second federation going into the tournament.

How do you decide which nations get those crazier, wild looks?

It’s really working with the federation and the athletes and really landing on what that story is. Sometimes it leads us into a little bit more of a subtle storytelling and other times it’s more overt, like Australia. This is the World Cup – it's the biggest stage and federations want to tell the word who they are, and the kits play a role in representing their respective identities.

Do you think that some of these kits have set the benchmark quite high for the next men’s kits as well?

Absolutely. Especially kits like France. I think the print on the away kit is so cool and it really shows off the Tricolore on the back. I think things like that, it really speaks to both men and women. If something’s cool, it’s cool to both genders, so it really doesn’t have to be specific to women and I think it would be amazing for a man to wear too.


Football and streetwear is closer than it’s ever been. When you design a kit now, are you thinking from a streetwear perspective as well, or is it still solely performance?

It’s both. For us in terms of innovation we’re really looking at the fabrics that we’re using, but then from a streetwear perspective and fashion, I think that’s where the storytelling comes in, with the colours and the graphics and all those details, I think that’s really where it comes to life in how people can take something like the jersey and style it in so many different ways.

What’s it been like to work so closely to the players?

Yeah, they’re great to work with. I think they’re so inspiring. They inspire us every day and they really take us into new places that we never really thought of and we feel so thankful to be able to work with so many amazing athletes. They've been so involved, and so interested in every decision. The kits are a representation of who they are as a group and they've worked with us to ensure each kit does just that.


Check out the full Nike WWC 2019 Paris Innovation Event here.