I’m not saying that everything Adidas does is wrong. The way they handle Lionel Messi is fantastic. His logo and his signature collection are simple, classic and well designed. The Adidas Skateboarding division also does things right. Their recent skate vid filmed in Tokyo is a great example.
I’m also not saying that other athletic brands are perfect. Nike’s use of the University of Oregon as a testing ground for design has its obvious successes and failures. Under Armour has done very well for themselves and seemed to strike gold with Bryce Harper, Cam Newton and Buster Posey. But, some of their products are more than iffy. As for Reebok, they’re struggling so much that Adidas had to move John Wall to Reebok and they’re focusing almost all of their performance efforts on CrossFit.
I’m picking on Adidas because they’re supposed to be number 2. They are supposed to try harder in the classic Avis sense by going the extra mile that #1 won’t. They’re not supposed to be inconsistent and look like they’re trying too hard.
Several weeks ago, Louisville beat Michigan in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. It was one of the most exciting, highly competitive basketball games ever played. It was also a showcase of everything right and wrong with Adidas Basketball. Michigan used to be the shining star of Nike’s college basketball roster. The Fab Five brought uniform cuts that were street-ready, classic shoes and a style that was more marketable than Duke and North Carolina combined. Not only did Adidas pick up the Michigan sponsorship, they kept their uniforms classy. Even their hyper-color Adidas uniforms weren’t bad.
Then there was the champions at Louisville celebrating in those awkward-looking shirt jerseys and shorts with a somewhat camo print on them: the adiZero Short Sleeve Uniform System. Yup, Adidas actually calls it a “system” and it’s as good of a place to start than any.
adiZero Short Sleeve Uniform System
Adidas, the Golden State Warriors and select Adidas schools have already taken a lot of negative press and fan backlash for this attempted fashion trend. I still can’t believe it actually happened though.
Someone at Adidas actually stood up in a meeting and said, “You know what NBA players should be wearing? Skin tight t-shirts and baggy shorts!”
Then! Someone else stood up and responded, “Yes! But let’s make them look even more different by putting pinstripes on the shorts but not the shirt. For college teams, the shorts can have a camo print that we will only put on the sleeves to make it look like the players are wearing shirts under the jerseys we’re trying to replace.”
Then, everyone else in the room had to approve it.
Then, the Warriors and colleges had to be sold the idea. It all seems stupid unless a ton of money was involved.
This jersey system is supposed to be 26% lighter than the regular one without sleeves. Does it increase performance? Did it help Louisville or the Golden State Warriors win games? Probably not. But, it did give Adidas another jersey to sell to fans (for $110!!) and more space for the NBA to put corporate ads on jerseys when they finally choose to go that route.
Adidas didn’t just subject the Warriors and Cardinals to their short sleeve experiment. The reward for the top high school ballers in the country selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game was to wear ugly versions of the jersey system. Of this group of All Americans who end up going pro, I wonder how many will sign with other shoe companies based on this branded embarrassment.