Nike air force shoe being made by a machine.

This Nike B.I.L.L. (Bot Initiated Longevity Lab) Doesn’t Hurt Your Pockets

Nike B.I.L.L. Bot Initiated Longevity Lab — NIKE, Inc.

  • Debuting in Nike Town London, B.I.L.L. (Bot Initiated Longevity Lab), is a robot-augmented system designed to clean and repair shoes with selected customizations.

Nike launched B.I.L.L. and while many may complain of rising prices, the currently free service utilizes technology to do one of our favorite things, EXLOS. Since we coined the acronym for Extending the Life of Sneakers, we’ve noticed the phrase pop-up more often. This means brands are really paying attention to the problems generated by the consumption of footwear. Nike is one of the biggest producers of sneakers in the world and although they continue to push out as much product as possible, the brand is attempting unique methods of being responsible.

Using advanced robotics, old-school hand craft, water-based cleaning products and recycled polyester patches, B.I.L.L. is currently capable of extending the life of Air Force 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Space Hippie 01s, and Nike Dunks. After loading a shoe into the robot, a three-dimensional digital model of the shoe is created, pinpointing detailed areas of cleaning on the upper, the sidewalls, and the outsole. Shoppers can then select patches to repair areas of wear-and-tear on the upper of their shoe. Once B.I.L.L. has finished with the shoes (all in all, B.I.L.L. takes about 45 minutes to process a pair of Air Force 1s) , Nike store athletes add new liners and laces made from recycled materials.

In the perfect world, Nike would limit production of new products, but that’s an unrealistic request to ask of a publicly held company with an obligation to shareholders. However, if the number of dirty Air Force 1s on the street tell us anything, it’s that if B.I.L.L. can extend the life of those sneakers as opposed to a new pair being built, possibly this will reduce the need to import more and still maintain the profit margin Nike earns by selling a new pair of Air Force 1s.  Considering the robot is setup to currently repair 3 of Nike’s most popular sneakers, it’s clear this is the goal.

The only issue in expanding the program is the cost of placing B.I.L.L.s into the expanse of Nike stores being opened around the globe. That’s a difficult task which underscores the difficulty of truly finding a solution for a company build on revenue and growth. Which leads Sneaker Impact to double down on our strategic initiatives to assist brands in removing old, worn and damaged sneakers from the supply chain and to help individuals to recycle more of their shoes sitting in closets. Kudos to Nike for building a potential kiosk styled system, but until a true end of life solution is generated you can reach out to Sneaker Impact to EXLOS.