Adidas emulates 'fast fashion' model to get back on trend

Wed May 13, 2015 10:08am EDT
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By Emma Thomasson

FUERTH, Germany (Reuters) - Battling new competition from fashion chains as well as traditional sportswear rivals, Adidas is eyeing the "fast fashion" model as a way of pepping up its three-striped ranges of tops, leggings and sneakers.

That means producing more items closer to its main markets, just as fashion chain Zara quickly turns out new designs from factories in Spain, but the German group sees the benefits outweighing any cost increases.

Sportswear makers traditionally operate on a seasonal business model, designing two main collections a year to 18 months before they hit the shelves.

But Adidas, which has lagged Nike in recent years in its ability to set trends, wants to shift towards fast fashion as pioneered by Inditex's Zara, which delivers new styles to its stores twice a week.

"In the athletic industry, no-one is fast at what they are doing, so there is an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by being faster at what we do," Glenn Bennett, head of global operations for Adidas, told Reuters in an interview.

"We're not out there to compete with the likes of H&M and Zara in the pure sense, but if they are going to dig into our territory ... we are going to dig into that territory with what we have to offer."

As running tights and sneakers move from track to catwalk, chains like H&M and Gap have launched their own sportswear lines, just as Adidas and Puma push into casual streetwear.

Adidas has been using teen label NEO, only five years old but targeting sales of 1 billion euros ($1 billion) in 2015, to test the new approach, both by delivering a stream of fresh styles and responding to demand by restocking top sellers.   Continued...

A shoe of Adidas, the world's second largest sports apparel firm, is pictured during the company annual general meeting in the northern Bavarian town of Fuerth near Nuremberg, Germany, May 7, 2015. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle