A sneaker for every city

With its new manufacturing process, Adidas can tailor its shoes to different locations.

Adidas has discovered that running shoes designed for New York don’t work as well in London, and those designed for London doesn’t perform as well in Paris, reports Quartz. So the company is manufacturing city-specific sneakers.

To design their shoes, Adidas workers traveled to New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris and Los Angeles, where they spoke with actual runners. They found, for example, that runners in London run mainly in the early morning or later at night, often in rainy weather. In New York, runners opt for longer and faster runs, on concrete lanes.

Runners were hooked up to sensors and motion sensors to analyze their gait, and Adidas discovered that New York runners need shoes with more cushioning in the middle or front of the foot, while in London they need reflective shoes that are easily visible. So, on October 19, Adidas launched the AM4LDN sneaker, which stands for “Adidas made for London.” The next week, it came out with the Parisian AM4PAR. Other designs will follow in 2018.

These city-specific sneakers are only part of the story. The way they are made is the rest. Thanks to Speedfactory, Adidas’ state-of-the-art computerized and robotized factory manufacturing process, the company has been able to move from mass production model into small batch, individually tailored design.

Previously, bringing a new design to market was a 12-to-18-month-long process that involved assembling parts manufactured in diverse places, mostly in Asia. The Speedfactory model brings almost everything into a single, highly automated location, near the area where the sneakers will be sold.