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Adidas Leans Into Luxury With Balenciaga, Wales Bonner Collabs

Adidas is leaning into high-fashion team-ups as it releases collections with Balenciaga, Gucci and Wales Bonner.

Last week, Adidas formally announced a “new partnership” with Balenciaga. The inaugural collection, showcased at the label’s New York City Spring 2023 show last Monday, included a hooded blouson, puffer jacket, tracksuit, hoodies, jerseys, tees, shorts and pants, as well as two colorways of the Triple S sneaker. The 33-piece line was available on Balenciaga’s site until Sunday. Adidas said the collection was inspired by the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

The sportswear brand unveiled a similar fashion-driven collaboration with Balenciaga’s fellow Kering brand Gucci in February. The “Exquisite Gucci” fashion show—its name is a play on the parlor game “Exquisite Corpse”—saw Gucci once again play with gender, while also introducing Adidas’ signature stripes and Trefoil logo to the luxury label’s signature silhouettes. The collection will finally hit Adidas’ Confirmed app Tuesday.

The company announced its reunion with another one of its fashion collaborators, Wales Bonner, Wednesday. Set to drop Saturday, the Spring Summer 2022 collection focuses on styles from the ‘70s and ‘80s and draws on the music and photography of the West African country Burkina Faso.

The lineup includes athletic jacquard knitwear and a “Seventies-inspired take” on Adidas’ WB Track Top and Track Pants. It also features two “elevated riffs” on the company’s Country shoe and the return of the WB Samba—the sneaker featured in the collaborators’ first collection—in two bright colorways.

Adidas launches latest long-distance running shoe

The company also unveiled the latest iteration of the Adizero Adios Pro—its entry in the battle for the world’s fastest marathon shoe—Wednesday.

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The Adizero Adios Pro 3 sports a new lightweight upper that is “designed to be race-ready and provide support for athletes where they need it most,” Adidas said. The shoe also features the carbon energy rods used in its predecessors, now in a single structure “for harmonious stiffness.”

Adidas' Adizero Adios Pro 3 running shoe launches in June
Adizero Adios Pro 3 Adidas

“This shoe showcases our ambition to continue working with, and for, the world’s top athletes, as we deliver elite racing footwear to those looking to run faster than ever and improve their running performance,” Nicholas Roché, global project manager at Adidas, said in a statement.

The Adizero Adios Pro 3 also includes two levels of Adidas’ Lightstrike Pro foam in the midsole for energy return and cushioning and its Continental rubber outsole for traction. It was made “in part” with recycled materials. The $220 shoe is set to arrive in the U.S. June 23.

Adidas signs first student-athlete NIL deal

The world’s top female amateur golfer, Rose Zhang, became the first student-athlete to enter into a name, image and likeness (NIL) endorsement agreement with Adidas Tuesday.

The winner of both the individual and team titles at the 2022 NCAA D1 Women’s Golf Championship, Zhang signed a “multi-year” contract to represent the Adidas brand on and off the course in all competition, training and other play outside her university team obligations. The 19-year-old athlete will also feature in brand marketing campaigns promoting Adidas’ latest in golf apparel and footwear.

“Adidas has been a major part of some of my biggest wins as an amateur, so this is an exciting moment for me,” Zhang said in a statement. “I’m most comfortable wearing the 3-Stripes on the course and can’t wait for what’s ahead.”

Adidas signed its first student-athlete NIL deal with golfer Rose Zhang
Rose Zhang Adidas

After long prohibiting college athletes from accepting outside money—effectively shutting out the possibility of brand-student sponsorships—the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted in June last year to let student-athletes benefit from their name, image and likeness. The rule change, which went into effect days later, immediately set off a wave of endorsements. Though major sportswear companies largely avoided the initial surge of sponsorships, brands like Nike and Puma had already signed their first athletes by the end of last year.

Adidas, meanwhile, waited until March to unveil plans for what it described as a “wide-sweeping, equitable and inclusive” NIL network. The program will give more than 50,000 student-athletes across 23 sports and 109 Division 1 NCAA schools the opportunity to become paid affiliate brand ambassadors, it said. At the time, Adidas said the network would scale up in four phases, starting with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Power-5 conference partners in the fall and expanding across all schools by April 2023.

The first round of student-athlete NIL deals will consist of women “competing in multiple different sports,” the company said Tuesday. It plans to share more information about this “first wave” of partners “soon,” it added. Adidas also revealed it will invest in equality initiatives focused on “increasing awareness and representation to make sport accessible to all.”

“We are happy to officially welcome Rose to the Adidas family,” Rupert Campbell, president of Adidas North America, said in a statement. “Rose embodies a winning Impossible is Nothing attitude on the golf course and we’re excited to start this new chapter of working with student-athletes.”

Adidas embraces recycled plastic in tennis, golf collections

On Monday, Adidas launched its SS22 Tennis Collection, a “high-performance” line of apparel made in part with either Parley Ocean Plastic or recycled content. Designed to be fully functional on court, each garment features the company’s cooling HEAT.RDY material.

The collection features two dresses, tank tops, long sleeve tees and a match skirt for female players. For men, it includes two tees, a sleeveless tee, a polo tee, a long-sleeve top and two types of shorts. It is available in multiple graphic prints, all inspired by the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, a Parisian botanical garden around which the French Open is currently taking place.

“I’m part of a generation of players who care about having an impact on and off the court,” Canadian tennis player and Adidas athlete Felix Auger-Aliassime said in a statement. “When I think about the future, it’s not just about my future as a tennis player, but also about the future of the planet. That’s why I wear the new Adidas SS22 collection made in part with Parley Ocean Plastic or in part with recycled materials—to send a message that we can all do our part by helping to end plastic waste.”

The collection follows a similar sustainability-themed drop from Adidas Golf. Unveiled Thursday, the Play Green collection is comprised of polos, tees and hats that were made in part with recycled materials.

Adidas has been working since 2018 to replace virgin plastics with recycled materials—“where a solution exists”—by 2024. Earlier this year, it confirmed it was on track to meet that goal, with recycled polyester accounting for 91 percent of all polyester it used in 2021.