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adidas, championing digital apparel & footwear

IFAB alumni Vincent Djen reported via LinkedIn on his first experience of adidas Futurecraft, a project I was privy to when based at adidas HQ Germany within the Digital Brand Commerce team. This team numbers over 1,000 members across their headquarters in Europe, North America and now China with the recent opening of their Shanghai digital hub. The brand’s commitment to digital innovation is substantial and the level of talent and expertise across each department from Innovation to Activation is nothing short of stunning.

Matching this digital muscle with the New Product Development team has brought aboutFuturecraft, but let me walk you through some of the history of this project and what it says about adidas.

In the autumn of 2016 in Berlin the concept of Futurecraft was launched with the opening of SpeedFactory and the creation of the first custom-created on-site digitally-printed Futurecraft M.F.G. (Made for Germany) sneaker. Alongside Futurecraft, the new sneaker franchise, was an apparel knitting machine to craft digitally-designed sportswear, although the options for both were limited to the technology and the materials of the time. But what was significant about this store activation 3 years ago was the insight that the next-generation consumer experience had to match the product manufacturing evolution.

This was not store technology for technologies sake, it was part of a higher order to reduce waste and deliver on-demand sustainable manufacturing based on insights and analytics.

Reducing scale manufacture, shipping, storage and handling costs would dramatically decrease the amount of existing waste on virgin material, energy, infrastructure and pollutants.

Anyone who works within the hallowed heavens of adidas will tell you about the brand’s ‘bull’s-eye’ mantra. Product first, the centre of the bull’s-eye. Retail experience second and then brand comes third, the outer ring. Without a great product and a great retail experience the brand means nothing to the consumer. This goes for store experience as well as a premium shopping experience on the dot com.

The product offering from SpeedFactory, employing new technology like AI & VR and leveraging data, we will elevate the consumer experience. Coupled with hyper-localised manufacturing, this provides tremendous opportunity to evolve the consumer experience at retail, online, and in the everyday lives of those consumers with digitally personalised products in a conscience-soothing closed-loop frictionless way.

The digital experiences that engage consumers and connects them to the product for the adidas brand is more than gimmicks in the retail environment, it's at the heart of the brand’s long term strategy and every day thinking.
Leveraging areas of opportunity that exist at the intersection of brand priorities, consumer insights, and new technologies. The ultimate goal of the brand is for the physical store experience, as part of their Key Cities strategy, to be linked to the ‘single consumer view’ in their database as a means to create hyper-localised and relevant product, specifically for the consumer using non-virgin and recycled materials unique to the needs or cultural requirements of that consumer.

Futurecraft is more than just a sneaker, it's a brand running towards a braver new world.

Gill Kingston, Digital Strategist, Marketing and Communications Director.

Gill Kingston