When adidas was founded in 1924 as “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik” they weren’t concerned with what was going on across the Atlantic. In fact, it wasn’t until the late sixties when Nike was still known as Blue Ribbon Sports that adidas took the then 200 million people inhabiting the USA a bit more seriously. adidas was far more focused on Europe which had a population of around 650 million people in 1970. Europe was adidas’ backyard, and they were competing with Puma for dominance. The battle had and would almost bankrupt both companies as they tried to build their respective brands. They would however have to start worrying about a new battleground in the 70’s. The battle between the top brands for market share was about to finally go global, and it was then that the race to capture the USA began.
In 1971, Blue Ribbon Sports ditched the Onitsuka Tiger (AKA Asics) in favour of their own swoosh and incorporated as Nike Inc. That was when things started to heat up in the USA, and the development of the sportswear industry’s new home in the USA really began. Just as the Dassler brothers had created athlete marketing, Phil Knight and W+K were about to pioneer aspirational marketing.
I would note that Reebok entered the USA later when entrepreneur Joe Foster obtained the rights to the British athletic company in 1979. They became the major competition for Nike in the United States, and would play a vital role as the industry developed.
The retail sporting goods industry is predicted to reach 266 billion dollars by 2017, and as of right now the American marketplace makes up 40% of that market. That 40% makes the USA the highest spending nation in the global sportswear marketplace. There are a few reasons outside of money spent why in the last 40 years the “land of the free” has cemented itself as the home of the sportswear industry. The next 4 parts that will be discussed are below:
- The opportunities for brands resulting from TV viewership and marketability of sports in the States compared to the rest of the world (Part 2).
- Hip-Hop’s influence in sportswear, and specifically in sneakers and footwear (Part 3).
- The value of sports brands in America, and the shift of the sportswear workforce from Europe (Part 4).
- Some thoughts about how the top players in the industry are competing in the USA (Part 5).
(Image courtesy of High Snobiety)