3 Ways Adidas Plans To Take The Sportswear Industry By Storm

Speed, focus, and maybe some robots.


Adidas needs a turnaround. The athletic company’s U.S. sales are plummeting. And it’s going to take more than poaching Nike design talent and recruiting Kanye West to make that happen. It’s going to take a new approach to the business of shoes.


During Adidas’s recent Investor Day, CEO Herbert Hainer laid out a five-year plan to turn the company around–a plan that’s unprecedented in the sportswear industry, and more in line with the strategy of fast fashion labels. WWD has the full story that’s worth a read. Here are the highlights to get you primed.

Adidas Will Bring Products To Market Faster
Currently, Adidas needs 12 to 18 months to bring shoes to market, but it’s hard to ride trends that way because you’re stuck in fashion forecasting, placing bets on designs that might look horrible a year down the line. Adidas wants to trim that production schedule to 45 days. To get there, it is bringing back manufacturing from Asia, even teasing production facilities that connect right to major stores, where robots produce a customer’s shoes in front of his eyes.

Adidas Will Make A Third Of Its Products Custom
Those shoe-building robots? They’re not just fast. They’re central to Adidas’s plan to provide consumers with custom products. As early as 2017, the company wants a third of the shoes it sells to be customized by the purchaser; you won’t just buy Kanye West’s newest shoe, you’ll make it your own.

Adidas Will Make Sure Everything Is In Stock Online
While shoe companies often build hype by offering extremely limited quantities, Adidas is going the opposite direction. It plans to leverage its existing e-commerce shops in conjunction with a faster production process to offer consumers an “endless aisle” of shoes where everything is in stock. What that means for Adidas’s own superlimited edition lines isn’t yet clear, but it sounds like Adidas is strategizing away from wooing the public through artificial demand.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach