This year, adidas Consortium has brought together the most influential retailers in the world to deliver monthly sneaker collaborations, and so far we’ve seen the likes of colette, HAVEN, Sneakersnstuff and more, remixing adidas silhouettes like the Ultra Boost, EQT Equipment Support and Iniki for the Sneaker Exchange program.
In addition to folding in retail partners from around the world, the Consortium banner has also ushered in made-in-Germany models like the L.A. Trainer and Samba, upholding the brand’s national heritage.
To find out a bit more about how adidas Consortium started, and how it operates today, we sat down with Daniel Bauer, Senior Director at adidas Originals.
Going back to the beginning, I heard Consortium started as a program for retailers to share minimum orders and to have one another’s products, talk about this.
I think we formalized it in 2005, we’ve been working with our Consortium retailers for a while, but it’s not only about product. We – as a brand – want to connect with the most influential retailers around the world, these stores are in key cities, and they have expertise when it comes to their customers. It’s a good network. There was also mutual respect between us and them, and it kind of organically grew into something.
Who were the original Consortium retailers?
A lot of the shops are still part of Consortium these days. Undefeated, Footpatrol, Union, also NEIGHBORHOOD has been part of Consortium since day one. It’s these archetypical retailers that are still with us.
What’s the criteria for a retailer to become part of the Consortium portfolio?
We have a network of people that is feeding us with information about accounts from around the world, and we have a certain criteria when it comes to the vision or concept of the store, the financials, their business. We ask “What is their consumer like? What makes their store unique?” We look at how they deal with launches, and their relevance in their city or in the industry in general. With Consortium, the respect is mutual between adidas and retailers, as well as among the retailers themselves. Of course there is some rivalry, but also lots of respect.
One of my favorite recent releases from Consortium was the made-in-Germany L.A. Trainer, how many factories is adidas running in Germany?
We still have a factory near our headquarters in Herzogenaurach, we still manufacture football shoes like the Copa Mundial, as well as some bespoke shoes for athletes. We have this expertise in-house, and if we have the capacity to make shoes there, then we do. Sometimes we also make samples in Germany, before production moves to Asia [for the full production run]. I couldn’t tell you how many factories exactly, but if it’s possible, we use our facilities.
Is Consortium intended to be a top-tier segment, similar to NikeLab?
I think we definitely work with the pinnacle of retailers when it comes to sneakers, that’s why we clustered them together and built this partnership with them. We do treat them as the top-tier. You can compare it to Nike, obviously they have similar kind of distribution tiers. I strongly believe that if you want to speak to a certain type of customer, you have to know where they shop and what they’re interested in, and you eventually come back to the same stores, because they know how it works.
Instagram is hugely important for every brand these days, but I noticed there is no Instagram for Consortium.
We have an Originals Instagram which obviously we use and focus on. For Consortium especially, the retailers are so strong on social media, and we want to have them as the platform to tell our stories, I think it’s much more organic and natural if they tell the stories and really elevate the product. So we don’t see the need for Instagram right now.
Last year Consortium had the World Tour, and this year we have the Sneaker Exchange program. What are the challenges when it comes to keeping collaborations exciting?
It’s always a challenge, because you see tons of collaborations every day. With Consortium, we found a way to work with the right partners on the right products. They’re all great retailers, some of them are just made for certain products, certain models, then it’s more organic. We try to bring something to the consumer that we couldn’t do by ourselves, and instead trying to give a bit of the essence of what both partners stand for. This is our ambition, but it’s also a challenge. It starts for us with defining what the partner stands for, what direction are they going, and how they connect with the product. A successful product will hit all those areas.
Do you have any favorites from this year’s Sneaker Exchange?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I wear the Sneakerboy x WISH Pure Boost, it’s an easy one. I wear it a lot. Right now I’m wearing slides. It’s too hot. [laughs]
adidas Statement was also a category that I heard of for the first time today, can you explain what that is?
It’s basically the name of our internal business unit, I don’t think we really use that name externally, but if you look at the lifestyle side of the adidas brand, we are divided into footwear, apparel and accessories, then you have Statement, which is the team that takes on the more elevated products, focusing on the leading consumers, which then defines the distribution.
What can we look forward to from Consortium in 2018?
We will continue with a year-long narrative like the World Tour and Sneaker Exchange, so in January 2018 we will unveil the third part. Next year there will be a bigger brand focus, we’ll be looking at innovation, it’s exciting but we can’t talk too much more about it.
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