Adidas' New Clothing Line Blends Style and Performance

It's the next step in the brand's quest for coolness dominance.​

BY PETE FORESTER | Sep 1, 2016 | Fashion


When it comes to brand size and reach, Nike and Adidas are hardly comparable—the Swoosh blows the Three Stripes out of the water. But Adidas is making a kind of investment that Nike isn't: It's working on being cool. Put in so few words it sounds gauche, but it's made a huge difference. Nike Running is currently down in sales—not because its technology is inferior to Adidas', but because it hasn't bridged the gap between athletics and lifestyle. It doesn't have anywhere new to go.

In the last two years Adidas has poured investment into developing killer running tech, but also making the shoes look good enough that people would wear them in everyday life. Don't forget that Adidas' Ultra Boost—arguably the most popular Adidas sneaker of the last year—is a technical running shoe.

Last night Adidas announced that it is expanding on this strategy and turning it into a whole new apparel category for the brand: Adidas Athletics. Where originally Adidas' clothes spanned a hodgepodge of athletic collections, they're now all being brought together under one umbrella with a single message and a single vision.

"In self reflection we realised that we needed to overhaul our brand image in that area," says Kate Ridley, VP of training for Adidas North America. "We had a lot of products that we had success with, but they weren't necessarily connected to a design aesthetic that we were really proud of or that really resonated with athletes." So the team started with the athletes. Nearly one thousand, who gave insights into their training and physical demands, mental states, and apparel preferences.

Then Adidas boiled it all down to find the trends.

"The first commonality was that they want more peace and quiet," says Ridley. We think of athletes being explosive and expressive, but that's what they do on the field. Before they perform they look inward. "They want to be protected from the mental distractions, not just physical distractions, and I think that sounds maybe a little obtuse, but it was a real learning for us," Ridley says. They took it to heart and designed products, like their Z.N.E. Hoodie, that create a protective bubble around the wearer. "Zero Negative Energy" is an apt name for a hoodie that blots out everything around you.

Where Ridley sees the inspiration as being almost metaphysical, Rob Lee, the VP of design for Adidas training and sportswear, kept his eye squarely on making sure the clothes are easy to wear. "It's all based on style," Lee says. "It's easy to do colour blocking. It's easy to put a cut line in a product to add more value. When you strip it down to its materials and its design lines and create a look head to toe using holistic colour, that was creating something new with Adidas Athletics that we haven't seen before with other brands."

Lee and his team looked to solid colours in tones that all work together. Rather than creating whole looks, the collection is a series of separates that can be mixed and matched to anyone's taste. It relies on the athlete, not bright colours and prints.

Adidas Athletics launched the same day the brand announced Tim Tebow has joined one as one of its athletes. His future as a professional athlete is still up in the air, earning unimpressive notes on his journey towards playing in the MLB, but Ridley is excited. Not just about Tebow—but also the fact that he's one athlete in a long line that have yet to be announced.

"There's a lot of great news coming up of our portfolio of assets and I think already, whether it's influencers or athletes, the world can feel the investment that we're making in that area," she says. "There's a lot more exciting things to come.”

From: Esquire US.