Fashion's Love of Sneakers Helped Drive Adidas's 4th Quarter Sales Up 12 Percent

Based on early sell-throughs, Adidas is predicting that 2014 is going to be big for the Stan Smith.
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Eliza Brooke
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Based on early sell-throughs, Adidas is predicting that 2014 is going to be big for the Stan Smith.
Photo: Imaxtree

Photo: Imaxtree

With droves of editors donning Stan Smith sneakers for fashion month, the last few weeks have been great press for Adidas. The fashion set's renewed enthusiasm for sneakers isn't the only good news for the brand: In its year-end report, the retailer noted a sales increase of 12 percent in the fourth quarter, with revenue from its Originals and Sport Style categories -- including Adidas NEO and its Y-3 line -- up 5 percent for the quarter.

Adidas notes that Stan Smith and the new, much more graphic ZX Flux are showing good early sell-throughs so far. In addition to its ongoing Stella McCartney-designed range, Adidas will be building out its fashion-friendly options this year with collaborations with Topshop, Urban Outfitters and Farm. Over the course of the next few years, the brand is also planning to roll out a new store concept called the "Neighbourhood" in 30-plus cities. We'll be looking to see what exactly that entails.

In addition to relaunching the Stan Smith in 2013, earlier this week Adidas released the Stan Smith Up, a sneaker wedge version of the shoe. We're curious to see how the Up performs, given that the sneaker wedge trend is waning, at least among the fashion crowd. But with the sudden popularity of flat Stan Smiths among showgoers, Adidas may able to capitalize on both mass market consumers who are still interested in sneaker wedges and more fashion-forward shoppers who have moved on to flat styles.

Elsewhere in Adidas's lifestyle offerings, the NEO label saw a sales bump of 22 percent in the fourth quarter. Fronted by Selena Gomez, the line "specifically targets the young fashionable teen, aged between 14 and 19 years, with the 16-year-old as the sweet spot." On the actual athletics side of things, football (soccer, to us Americans) sales were up 35 percent in the last quarter as Adidas ramps up its marketing in advance of the World Cup this summer.

Globally, Latin America is Adidas's fastest-growing market -- again, largely fueled by its World Cup marketing -- with sales up 7 percent in China and 2 percent in the U.S. in 2013.