What are Nike shoes made of?
What raw materials does Nike use to make shoes? Here at the Sneaker Factory, we have examined many Nike shoe styles to find out exactly what is inside. We have sectioned The Air Jordan 1, the Nike Vapor Fly, Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, the Air Max 90, Kobe 4, and other popular Nike models to see what is inside. So, what materials will you find inside a Nike shoe?
Nike Shoe Materials
Most Nike shoes use a mix of leather, fabric, foam, and rubber. The Nike classics and deluxe model basketball shoes will have real leather parts. Nike running shoes and modern performance baseball shoes are generally made with lightweight fabric uppers in place of heavier leather.
By weight, rubber is the main component; by volume, foam is the main component.
Does Nike use special shoe materials?
Nike builds their shoes with very high-quality materials, but they are not exactly “special.” Yes, some Nike models, such as the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, have unique weaves of upper mesh, but any shoe brand can purchase the Pe-bax™ foam midsole material in the Next%.
Are shoes made of plastic?
Are Nike shoes made of plastic? The answer is yes. Almost every part of a Nike shoe is plastic. The EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam inside Nike shoes is soft, flexible plastic filled with air bubbles. Additionally, the nylon and polyester fabrics in Nike shoes are composed of fine plastic fiber threads woven together. The PU foam inside the Nike shoe is plastic, and even the thread used to hold the shoe together is plastic!
The rubber inside the shoe is a mix of real rubber and “synthetic rubber.” Synthetic rubber is an artificial elastomer synthesized from petroleum byproducts. So yes, the rubber inside a Nike shoe is made of plastic.
Foam in Nike shoes
Inside every Nike shoe, you will find several foam types. Both open and closed cell foams provide comfort, cushioning, and structure to a shoe. Nike midsoles are made with closed-cell EVA foam, closed-cell PU foam, and closed-cell Pe-Bax foam. Some outsole bottoms of lightweight Nike shoes are made from closed-cell “blown” rubber foam. Nike sneaker footbeds are made from closed-cell EVA foam and “crystalized” PU foam.
Inside the uppers of most Nike shoes, you will find open-cell PU “sponge” foam. The soft collars and plush tongues of Nike running and basketball shoes are nearly all constructed with open-cell PU foam.
Learn more about shoe materials!
If you want to learn more about all the different materials found in Nike shoes check out the Shoe Material Design Guide. This book details all the shoe materials you will need to make modern athletic, classic casual, and high-fashion footwear.
Each chapter covers a specific shoe material type. Learn how each material is made, the options available to you, and how to specify the material correctly. Inside you will find chapters on leather, textiles, synthetics, laces, glue, reinforcements, hardware, logos, midsoles, outsoles, and more! Download your ebook today!