Why the Future of Adidas Originals Will Largely be Defined by Partnerships

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Retro reigns in today’s fashion landscape, and that’s been good news for Adidas this year.

In the first quarter of 2024, the athletic giant reported that sales rose 8 percent to 5.46 billion euros (or $5.91 billion at current exchange). Growth in the period was driven by lifestyle products, especially Originals footwear, with sales increasing 13 percent on a constant currency basis to 3.24 billion euros (or $3.52 billion).

Much of that recent success has been driven by timeless silhouettes, such as the Samba and Gazelle, while other classic looks remain favorites of sneaker lovers, including the Superstar and SL 72.

And Torben Schumacher, global general manager of Adidas Originals, basketball and partnerships, said there is even more untapped potential in the company’s portfolio. “Our archive is incredible, and I’m always impressed by how much of it we have yet to tap into,” Schumacher said. “Our archive is the tapestry of who we are, and our past will always be relevant to us.”

He explained that what has always set Adidas apart is its ability to reframe the connections around sports and to pioneer collaborations across art, music, fashion and more. “It has, in many ways, created the blueprint for the crossover between sport and culture, beginning as early as the 1980s with Run D.M.C. as the first music-culture endorsement, Y-3 as the first fashion collaboration, leading into current moments that have allowed Adidas Originals to cross over into counter-cultural groups and the luxury fashion sector,” said Schumacher.

In terms of how Adidas strategizes around its Originals today, Schumacher stressed the importance of balancing classics with newness. “We understand how vitally important our past is in that it gives us context, but that we simultaneously cannot rely on our previous accomplishments and that we must always work toward creating icons of the future,” he said.

That future, Schumacher explained, will largely be defined by the partnerships Adidas Originals forges.

“Looking at the past 75 years of Adidas, we have to thank those who have collaborated with us and the impact they have had in turning contemporary designs and cultural moments into timeless classics,” Schumacher said. “These collaborations allow us to take a step back and view ourselves through the lens of others.”

Adidas Originals continues to be prolific with its co-designed releases. So far this year, it has teamed with partners such as Kith, Pharrell’s Humanrace, Grace Wales Bonner and Sporty & Rich to update its archival Samba, Gazelle and SL 76 styles, as well as others.

“Our job at Originals is to carry the classics through as many evolutions as possible by breathing new life into them, whether that is through material innovation and sustainability, new colorways, new collaborators or even just telling stories through the shoes that resonate with our audience,” said Schumacher. “What’s classic is not limited only to products. Instead, it’s about people bringing our brand into new contexts.”

About the Author

Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at peter.verry@footwearnews.com.

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