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Nike CEO Mark Parker Talks Innovation, Branding and Hyperfeel

Following the launch of Nike‘s cutting-edge Free Flyknit and Free Hyperfeel, Nike, Inc. CEO Mark Parker sat down with Jeffrey Martin of USA TODAY Sports for a rare interview. CEO of Nike, Inc. since 2006, Parker joined Nike as a footwear designer in 1979 and slowly worked his way up to his current position. In the 27 years he has spent at the company, he’s witnessed more change and innovation than he could have ever imagined. Check out Parker’s take on the company’s evolution and what he thinks of the latest innovations from Nike. For the full piece head over to USA TODAY Sports.

Some might not know you joined Nike in 1979 as a designer. With today’s unveiling of “Nature Amplified,” highlighted by the Free Flyknit and Free Hyperfeel running shoes, did you ever think footwear and design would ever reach this point?

It’d be easy for me to say, ‘This was part of the plan — we’re right on schedule.’ No, honestly, no. The thing with technology and innovation, doing what we do, working with athletes, is that there is so much potential. I never imagined back in the late ’70s, early ’80s that there would be as much potential to innovate today as there is. People used to ask me — what more can you do with shoes that hasn’t been done? — back in the early ’80s. I see it exponentially open for more opportunity to innovate than back then.

The foot is the instrument, and in the process, you’re emphasizing what’s natural. It feels like there is less to these shoes, but they’re also more innovative. Critics will say it’s more expensive (Flyknit retails for $160, available Aug. 1, while Hyperfeel will cost $175 starting Sept. 5), but it seems high quality. Your response?

It’s new technology so you’re just seeing the very front end of the possibility with Flyknit, Free and the whole concept of Hyperfeel… Those things are in their early stages. I can see — I can’t talk about it here today — but I can see where we’re headed and it’s incredibly exciting. As a designer, I’m excited. Certainly so as the CEO of this company. I’m a product geek. I’m obsessed with working with product, with the athletes, and to see the potential that exists just with the technology we talked about today is huge. Let alone the things we haven’t talked about.

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