I can remember the day Nike announced they were re-entering the snowboard industry. Sure they had failed at their first go around and left with their tail between their legs or maybe it was the lack of profit margins, but a second entrance meant that they had rethought their strategy and could potentially bring something to the table after all, skateboarding had seemed to accept them. So they went and hired a great group of snowboarders to run their snowboard division, they signed on some athletes, and then they released their boots and outerwear. Regardless of what you think about Nike you probably realized this signaled a change in the game and it was only a matter of time before others in the footwear market stepped in.
So 686 partnered with New Balance and … well still not sure what else is going on over there they’re less in your face and just sort of doing their thing. But we all knew the big thing was when would adidas join the snowboard game to rival their competition with Nike. They have done goggles and we had that sneak peak back in 2009 when they worked with Salomon with 50 pairs of boots.
So we sat back and watched Nike do its thing with dumping money into sponsoring events, riders, and expanding their lines. Then out of their success we saw that adidas was signing Jake Blauvelt as their flagship pro and so it began. They built the hype slow much like Nike which I can only speculate was to build up acceptance. Then they announced the signing of Kazu Kokubo, Eric Jackson, Helen Schettini, Forest Bailey, and Keegan Valaika. So it would seem they were on the fast track to the Nike path or maybe it’s the established mold to get into snowboarding, some might call this buying in or strategic marketing. But in all seriousness look at the pros Nike signed off the bat then compare those riders styles to what adidas has going on, they practically mirror each other.
Now while most of you were glued to your television sets watching energy drink wars or as some know it the X-Games you probably noticed a few of their riders competing in the half pipe and street contests. You might have even noticed that their feet were adorned with what looked like adidas boots or at least you thought that’s what they were. But if you follow them on Instagram you were greeted with something else.
Strange the photo that TWBiz posted from their Instagram with their boots doesn’t show a quick lace system. Granted there were supposed to be three models so this could only be one of them.
Now you know what that black boot looks like? Could that be last years Burton Driver X? Compare these two photos below.
How about that horribly painted red one? What boot is that? Looks like the Hail Restricted with the flap opened up.
So here we are going into North Americas largest trade show one week after the most televised snowboard event next to the Olympics and the team doesn’t have gear yet. That means that their riders are still rocking their old gear from last year that their old sponsors hooked them up with. If you have followed the adidas story from the start back in November of 2011 it was announced that they would start work on a higher end boot in February 2012, here we are at the tail end of January in 2013 and the team doesn’t even have a prototype? What does that say about product development, promotional materials, or where snowboarding sits with them?
Snowboarding is in a precarious spot right now and it needs all the brands it can to influx money into it. More money = more awesome products, paid athletes, and hopefully rider retention, but we also need to be leery of who we let in. I have emailed adidas for an SIA appointment to check out their products and even if they don’t respond we will swing by to check them out. But for a year of introductions this doesn’t bode well for them and raises more questions than answers, the biggest in my eyes are will we even see their boots next week in Denver?
I leave you with this quote from an interview on ESPN Snowboarding. “We never want to be a “me too” brand,” [Jess] Weinstein said. “We want to contribute something that riders can be really stoked on. We’re realistic about this. At the end of 2015, if we have enough product out there between footwear and outerwear that we can legitimately be considered a key contributor in the snowboard market, we’d all be high fiving.” So is snowboarding ready for adidas?