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Sport Report: Adidas Makes Beeline Into Women’s Collection

NEW YORK -- Sportswear carrying the three-stripe activewear motif got a big play in the spring showings of such collections as DKNY and Isaac Mizrahi.<BR><BR>Now, the athletic wear company that developed the look, Adidas, is out to get its share of...

NEW YORK — Sportswear carrying the three-stripe activewear motif got a big play in the spring showings of such collections as DKNY and Isaac Mizrahi.

Now, the athletic wear company that developed the look, Adidas, is out to get its share of the spotlight.

Adidas America, the U.S. subsidiary of the world’s third largest athletic shoe and apparel firm, had put full development of its women’s line on hold while focusing on men’s. However, after receiving what it says were hundreds of requests from fashion magazines for samples of its signature three-stripe athletic wear, Adidas America decided it was the time to zero in on women’s wear.

“Since this three stripe phenomenon has happened, we thought we’d use it now as a springboard to get back into women’s fashion in an authentic way,” said David Miller, Adidas America’s national sales manager. With wholesale price points ranging from $15 to $200, Adidas America expects to be competitive with Nike and Reebok as well as with sportswear lines such as Liz Claiborne and DKNY. Crop tops are priced to retail from $25 to $40; HotPants and leggings from $28 to $35. Warmups will retail from $90 to $115. Quilted jackets will retail for $110, while leather jackets will start at $300.

Despite this range of products, Mary McGoldrick, Adidas’ director of design and product development, said that basic bodywear was the focus of the new line.

“We wanted to make something functional. But we also live on this planet and realize that fashion influences athletic products,” she said. “Everyone’s wearing the three-stripe — from Claudia Schiffer to Madonna.”

During her decade-long affiliation with Nike, McGoldrick worked on the Air Jordan among other campaigns that bolstered Nike’s business during the mid-Eighties. When the late Rob Strasser and Peter Moore left Nike in 1987 to form Sports Inc., McGoldrick joined them. Last year Adidas bought Sports Inc. to revamp and strength its faltering U.S. business, and the initial emphasis was on men’s.

During an early January brainstorming session, the decision was made by senior management to go forward with a new women’s line. The samples were in the New York showroom one week later. The line will be available in black and white, gray and black, and in red and white. The fall collection will be distributed to department stores and sporting goods stores. Senior management declined to comment on units booked or predicted sales.

Of the 16 pieces in the collection, McGoldrick expects the unitard, the short and long-sleeved crop tops and the HotPants to be the most popular.

“These products were created to reflect women’s lives. Today women are climbing, jumping out of planes and doing everything else that men do,” McGoldrick said. “We knew that creating this line involved more than taking what we make for men and putting it in pink, pale blue or violet.”

In addition to adjusting for fit and comfort, this also means giving the products a fashion look. To determine what women want, the company has been using focus groups.

“We have to stay true to our heritage as an athletic company,” she said. “Fashion used to be an ugly word in our industry. It’s not that way anymore. It’s functional.”