Winter is coming and so is adidas Running's anticipated partnership with HBO hit fantasy series Game of Thrones. The collection of Ultraboosts is officially unveiled today, and the collab is all about the details.
Comprising six Ultraboost 4.0s, the collaboration nods toward Game of Thrones characters, houses, and plot moments, from the ancient and terrifying White Walkers to Daenerys Targaryen's ferocious fire-breathing dragons. On top of the half-dozen colorways referencing the Night’s Watch, the White Walkers, House Targaryen, Daenerys’ dragons, House Stark, and House Lannister, the story continues with features such as printed sole inserts and heel tabs featuring maxims like “Winter Is Here” and “Hear Me Roar."
This new adidas Running project follows adidas Originals' recent collab with Japanese series Dragon Ball Z, which took a similar approach by rendering eight of the anime's characters as limited kicks.
adidas Running senior product manager Stephan Schneider is the man responsible for everything Ultraboost. It's adidas' single biggest product franchise, and the brand just welcomed a new member of the family, the Ultraboost 19. We sat down with Schneider to learn exactly how the partnership between the Three Stripes and Game of Thrones came about.
"We are always looking for new opportunities to build powerful and meaningful collaborations," Schneider says. "The brand has an open door policy." In recent years, adidas' collaboration strategy — led by the Originals division — has been to offer the brand's products to other creatives, and the handshake between the HBO series and the sportswear brand was thanks to this mindset. Schneider is a big Game of Thrones fan himself, telling us he's most looking forward to the House Targaryen colorway.
But why Game of Thrones? Schneider continues, "When you look at adidas and HBO, or Game of Thrones particularly, you have two powerhouses and two iconic brands. We wanted to bring a sports icon and blend that with a cultural icon to create a really powerful and meaningful story."
Jeff Peters, vice president of licensing and retail at HBO, explained the opportunity via email, telling us, "The chance to create a bespoke sneaker collection with an industry giant like adidas was just the type of thing we were looking for as we approached the final season of Game of Thrones. The Ultraboost program has been a total trendsetter and such a great fit for the biggest moment in our show’s history. The entire project is exciting, but seeing the shoes in person for the first time was a huge highlight. Translating our show motifs into footwear was a fun puzzle to solve."
While the thoughtful details expressed across the six performance runners will certainly appeal to collectors and sneakerheads, the six Ultraboosts could be even more enticing for Game of Thrones fans eager to wear their love of the show on their feet as they await the final season on April 14.
"HBO was very open to our suggestions for how we would bring everything to life," says Schneider. "I think that's the beauty of the collaboration between Ultraboost and Game of Thrones. It speaks to all three dimensions, all consumers. So you definitely talk to the sneakerhead, you'll talk to the Game of Thrones fan, but you'll also have a shoe that you can actually run in. It's just a very cool new spin on a running shoe."
We asked HBO's Peters what he would have picked for a seventh sneaker, had his team and adidas chosen to make one. "My favorite character is Tormund Giantsbane, so maybe a shoe for the Free Folk," he says.
The adidas x Game of Thrones collaboration drops on March 22 at adidas, as well as retailers such as END. Clothing, Sneakersnstuff, Champs, Zalando, Foot Locker, Finish Line, and JD Sports.
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