GLOBAL: Manufacturers of athletic clothing and footwear, like Adidas and Puma, are being forced to adapt to the pressures, mores and volatility of high fashion, as ‘dad-sneakers’ become the flavour of the month.

Following an aesthetic shift toward chunky soles and overwrought styles, emphasised by the high fashion label Balenciaga, both mass market and more niche sport labels are trying to adapt to “major shifts”, according to a report in Bloomberg.

As retro styles that once accounted for a steady and continuous stream of revenue for both Adidas and Puma are changing. In a recent statement, Puma CEO Bjoern Gulden admitted that his company had been blindsided by “major shifts in product trends and consumer demand, especially in footwear.”

At the core of this is the shift to streetwear, with a rhythm of product drops and an easy grace on social media for brands that do it well. The trend, which is exemplified by brands like Supreme, has played a significant part on growing the sneaker category by 10% in 2017, compared to regular sports footwear, which saw a relatively slim 2% of growth.

Speaking about adapting to fashion, Kasper Rorsted, Adidas’ CEO, observed how fashion’s “life cycles change much more rapidly.”

“That’s where the challenge is, and the opportunity. Can you spot the trend? Can you create that shoe at a much higher speed than we normally do and hit the trend line right?”

At a business level, this requires a contraction of manufacturing processes of the sort that have proved difficult for mass market brands such as H&M. But Adidas has adapted and is beginning to use “speed factories” that turn a two-month turnaround from traditional suppliers to a 24-hour turnaround.

The problem, according to some observers, is that the expense and high-fashionness of Balenciaga may swing the pendulum once again, suggests Tim Blanks, editor-at-large of The Business of Fashion.

‘It’s inevitable when dads are wearing Triple S that the people looking for their own modes of self-expression start looking at the opposite. It’s always happened: sportswear, tailoring, sportswear, tailoring.’

Sourced from Bloomberg, Metro, WARC