When big-mountain snowboarder Jake Blauvelt and his agent began contemplating a potential boot sponsor for Blauvelt last spring, they did something odd: On a whim, they e-mailed a skateboarding team manager at a company that had never made snowboard boots.
Turns out it was the smartest thing they could have done, as Adidas had just decided to find a snowboarder who could help adidas expand into snowboarding, following the success of fellow mainstream sportswear behemoth Nike. Blauvelt, who had admired the three-stripes brand since his youth soccer days in Vermont, was one of a handful on adidas' short list.
The wild coincidence morphed into a three-year contract between Blauvelt and adidas. The company is counting on the 25-year-old to lead its brand into snowboarding with a three-model signature boot line. According to brand marketing manager Jess Weinstein, adidas Snowboarding will also feature an outerwear line slated to be released in the fall of 2013, along with Blauvelt's two pro model boots. An "après-shred boot" also bearing Blauvelt's name is expected to be made available in the fall of 2012.
"We were the first [snowboarders] to contact them," Blauvelt said, "and we set up a meeting in San Francisco and met a lot of the guys behind adidas Skateboarding and got the relationship going. Then I flew over to Germany this past summer and saw the headquarters, and they really sold me on the whole program. They're super athlete driven and they like doing everything really authentically. I guess it was meant to be."
Added Weinstein: "When Jake signed, that was kind of like a Christmas present we got. It was really a matter of amazing luck."
A lot of boot companies don't cater to hard chargers... When people put on a boot in a shop, they just want it to feel like a sneaker. But what we're hoping to do is have this really hard-charging, fairly stiff boot that feels good when you put it on, but also holds up throughout the winter.” --Blauvelt
In addition to the après boot, adidas' two snowboarding models will be "a lower-end, pricepoint boot that's soft, something the general consumer puts on at the shop and feels really good," Blauvelt said. "Then we're going to do something high end, which I'm really excited to work on. I've never been able to find a stiff enough, light enough, super high-performance boot."
Designs for the high-end boot won't be initiated until February, but Blauvelt already has some ideas. "We want to go low profile, super sleek -- probably a leather boot with not many seams, and just make it look unreal," he explained. "A lot of boot companies don't cater to hard chargers because, honestly, I don't think they sell that well. When people put on a boot in a shop, they just want it to feel like a sneaker. But what we're hoping to do is have this really hard-charging, fairly stiff boot that feels good when you put it on, but also holds up throughout the winter."
Weinstein said adidas' action-sports group (which has expanded from six to 17 employees in the last two years) is focusing on its skateboarding products in 2012, its snowboarding products in 2013, and its surfing products in 2014.
"We never want to be a 'me too' brand," Weinstein said. "We want to contribute something that riders can be really stoked on. We're realistic about this. At the end of 2015, if we have enough product out there between footwear and outerwear that we can legitimately be considered a key contributor in the snowboard market, we'd all be high fiving."