The advance of three unfancied teams (Croatia, Belgium and England) to the World Cup semifinals has offered up its own test to the sportswear giants Nike Inc. and Adidas AG: How they’re coping with the shift to fast fashion.
Both companies face increasing competition from upstarts who aim to cut the time it takes to conceive, design and manufacture sportswear. In response, they’ve accelerated efforts to mimic the approach.
Nike calls it, in a wince-making sports analogy, the “Triple Double” strategy: twice the innovation, twice the speed and twice the direct connections with customers. It wants to double sales from digital channels to 30 per cent of revenue by 2022, which means it will need to be far nimbler in responding to changing demand. Adidas targets e-commerce revenue of 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) in 2020, or about 15 per cent of estimated sales for that year.
In the classic approach to manufacturing sports gear, it can take a year from a jersey’s conception to its arrival in stores. Additional orders still need a lead time of several weeks.