View Slideshow

BERLIN — In a move to keep it original, Adidas launched a new global Adidas Originals Neighborhood flagship concept here Thursday. It did so right where the 12-year-old label made its retail debut 11 years ago: at number 13-15 Münzstrasse.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We didn’t want to move. It’s where our consumer lives,” noted Originals head Arthur Hoeld of the Hackescher Markt area. “But the new interior, which was completely changed, is about setting a new tone and freshening it up.”

Along with the new interactive HomeCourt format, which bowed in Beijing in February, the Neighborhood flagships represent the German sportswear giant’s first new retail concept in six years. Why now? “There’s a normal life cycle of retail formats. It’s a natural thing,” Hoeld said. “It’s time and we were ready to give the brand a new buzz. The brand has grown up.”

The Neighborhood flagships will be rolled out to both new and existing Originals venues in London and Shanghai this spring and summer, with New York, Paris and Seoul to follow sometime later this year. Tightly edited to display “the very best of the brand,” such as sneaker highlights and limited-edition releases, the Originals store environments will be tweaked to reflect each respective city. “No location will look the same,” Hoeld said. “Each will blend into its neighborhood.”

RELATED STORY: Pharrell to Collaborate With Adidas >>

In Berlin, that means retaining a raw edge, with concrete the material of choice for the floors, walls and ceilings of the 3,200-square-foot space. At the same time, there’s a cleaner polish to the interior. More space has been left between the more clearly defined display units, each dedicated to one of Originals’ collaborations, such as with Topshop, The Farm, Opening Ceremony or Jeremy Scott, or product ranges such as Soccer World Cup series. Hang tags with a photo of the key image identify each, accompanied by a short synopsis of the story behind the collaboration or product line.

The footwear wall, according to Hoeld, is the heart and backbone of the space. Marked with a bold three-stripe slash, the zigzag shelves hold the latest models, while a smaller zigzag unit will spotlight special or limited editions, like the new ZX Flux. To mark the Berlin opening, one ZX Flux style has been printed with satellite photos of Berlin streets, and on Saturday, the full ZX Flux photo print pack for spring 2014 hit the shelves.

One key difference between the new Berlin Adidas Originals Neighborhood flagship and its predecessor is the gender split. Men’s and women’s occupy opposite ends of the sales floor; the display units are in white wood and bronze-toned metal for women and darker wood and metal for men.“We split it in order to better focus on the different genders,” Hoeld explained. “We have specific collections for women, which we would like her to enjoy in a dedicated and completely merchandised environment.”

The Berlin store design has a strong urban undercurrent, the lighting system bringing to mind city transit grids, while the brand’s signature Trefoil has been rebooted and crossed with a 3-D map of the area.

Each of the Neighborhood stores will work with local talents. In Berlin, it was graphic designer Saskia Hahn, who scratched the brand’s Berlin Manifesto across the windows to celebrate the opening, and photographer Oliver Rath, who visually translated the Manifesto’s love letter to Berlin into photographs that will appear around the city as well as in the store’s new multimedia back lounge.

Throughout the year, the store will host special events, from product launches to artist collaborations or sneaker breakfasts, with a person on board “dedicated to energizing the store,” Hoeld said. In addition, the brand’s Tumblr site will include a specific Berlin flagship area with store-related content as well as more general news about what’s happening in the German capital. “We want to be able to tell that neighborhood story,” he said.