Adidas is limiting its flagship shoes — because in the sneaker biz, less is more

As Adidas begins to roll out some of their major partnerships, the company has decided to slow production on 2 of its most popular shoes, and the shoe giant is feeling great about it.


August 13, 2018

Adidas’ Stan Smith and their other sneaker, the Superstar, have been major contributors in Adidas’ massive revival over the past few years. 

The brand continues to grow, including in the North American market, where sales rose 16% in the second quarter. 

Yet, according to their CEO Kasper Rorsted, for the past 18 months, Adidas has been pulling back distribution of the 2 flagship sneaks.

Why are they putting their cash cows out to pasture?

It’s worked once before…

Back in 2011, Adidas made the decision to cease production on Stan Smiths — a seemingly risky move at the time. But, when they brought it back in 2014, they realized they were on to something.

Adidas sold 8m pairs by 2015, and, though unreleased by Adidas, they were rumored to have sold nearly 15m in 2016 — more than double what it moved in the shoes’ first decade of existence.

‘They’re not old, they’re collector

As Quartz notes, much of the sneak biz relies on scarcity. Case in point: Last year, when competitor Nike thought they would increase sales by flooding the market with Air Jordans, but, in actuality earnings dropped 8% that quarter. 

Stan Smiths and Superstars have long been cooling in certain markets outside of North America, but the new partnerships Adidas has rolled out in recent years have more than made up for it.

According to Rorsted, the company’s 3-year-old Ultra Boost franchise grew nearly 50% last quarter.

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