Adidas Snowboarding goes premium
Players in the snowboarding industry do not hide the fact that the news of Adidas entering their domain was upsetting. But the majority admits that the advent of the German giant also indicates just how healthy the segment is. And they are counting on Adidas to be a boost of energy. The open question was how Adidas Snowboarding would position itself.
And the answer is now clear. The new line of the clover logo is a relative of its Originals product group and aimed at an upmarket public. The collection of some 70 pieces was presented in Munich to buyers and professional journalists during the ISPO trade show. The snowboarding line's distinguishing feature is its upscale bent. The design teams have clearly refined the line's identity, as if to purify it. The collection mainly plays with black and white and shades of gray. And in little gestures, it invokes the Originals group with detailing in electric blue.
The diverse line ranges from jackets to pants to one-piece suits and base layers but also a whole series of accessories and boots. It offers technical outerwear and equipment that use Gore-Tex, boots with soles developed in cooperation with Continental or Recco technology, which helps locate avalanche victims. Price positioning of the line is on par with the most upscale brands in the industry.
Basically, Adidas has drawn from its experience in skateboarding to build a strong strategy for snowboarding. “We are targeting a distribution in mountainous ski areas for retail customers between ages 14 and 22, who are regular snowboarders and need to have technical products,” said Morgan Boeri, head of Adidas business units Originals and Neo. “The goal is to achieve credibility in snowboarding, like we now have in skateboarding, where we are among the top three brands in the industry.”
To earn this credibility, the brand has enlisted the services of prominent riders known for their skills independently from competitive events. The line was created in consultation with backcountry specialists Jake Blauvelt, Kazu Kokubo, Eric Jackson, Helen Schettini, Keegan Valaika and Forest Bailey and the Action Sports development team, based in Portland, Oregon.
In France, the team opted for thirty products for men and women, concentrated on jackets and boots for a start. Between the professional models and the boot inspired by the iconic samba soccer shoe, the brand has a few points to prove. And it is Stéphane Michaud's job to make the case to core retailers in France. He is the line's representative there and a former professional snowboarder, a boon to Adidas, as the brand is naturally viewed as mainstream and now has to convince the purists. “For SB, we started with an integrated team,” said Morgan Boeri, “but snowboarding distribution is really specific. We want to succeed but there is not excessive pressure because the long-term horizon of Originals does not depend on snowboarding. We will work to raise awareness among consumers we did not reach until now.”
Thus, for the moment Adidas is not staking out any goals and has announced its ambitions in this core segment. The brand will also target specialized media (Onboard, Transworld, etc.), and finance the production of films to make its presence known. While there are no current plans for a store, the three-striped clover brand may explore the idea of an Action Sports division starting in 2015.
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