DENVER, United States — Adidas plans to start selling a full line of snowboard apparel and boots this fall. The question is whether the brand best known for its basketball, running and soccer gear can be accepted in the world of snowboarding.
So far pro riders including Jake Blauvelt, Kazu Kokubo and Eric Jackson have agreed to ride with the company's gear. Adidas AG said that after making sportswear for just about every Olympic event, snowboarding is a natural next move.
Jess Weinstein, global brand marketing for the action sports division at Adidas, acknowledges some snowboarders have bristled at the brand venturing into action snow sports.
"There's a saying. 'Skater and hater rhyme for a reason.' People love to hate the new person to come into the scene," he said.
For now, the brand is targeting core snowboarders in the United Kingdom; North America; Chile; France; central Europe with a focus on Germany, Austria and Switzerland; and the Nordics, including Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
There's stiff competition. According to the trade group SnowSports Industries America, customers already can choose from more than 400 snowboard boot models and at least 69 snowboard apparel brands with measurable sales. Brands like Nike also have jumped back into the snowboard market in recent years.
Denver snowboarder Natalie Knowlton, who typically wears snowboard boots made by ThirtyTwo, a Volcom coat and Holden pants, said she thinks of running when she thinks of Adidas, not snowboarding.
"I'm not sure where their experience comes from," she said. "They have a lot of work to do. The whole industry has seen an influx of people who want to make (gear) who haven't made (anything) before."
Adidas' push into snowboarding comes after it started a skateboarding division about seven years ago.
Blauvelt, a fan of Adidas' soccer shoes, was the first pro snowboarder to sign with Adidas and helped develop a boot bearing his name that's meant for the backcountry. Adidas offered an apres shredding boot bearing Blauvelt's name for the 2012-2013 season, but it isn't meant for snowboarding.
Adidas showed its new line to retailers at the annual SIA Snow Show in Denver this winter. It includes women's and men's jackets, boots, pants, layers and one-piece snowsuits.
Adidas looked at what was missing in the marketplace of bright colors and patterns and settled on a black, white and gray color palette for its line. Several items prominently include the brand's trademark three stripes.
Weinstein wouldn't reveal the snowboard line's marketing budget.
"Snowboarding is an expensive market to get into," he said.
Rather than running traditional advertising, Adidas will get the word out through snowboard publications in the six target markets worldwide, through short online films, and sponsorships of films by its riders, Weinstein said.
By Catherine Tsai
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