How Primeknit was born

Published on March 4, 2014

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Adidas revealed the adizero Primeknit. This shoe uses a technology for which they rethought how footwear is engineered. To celebrate the Olympic Games and this innovation, adidas created 2,012 pairs of the adizero Primeknit knitted in the same red and white colors.

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While sport shoes are usually made from many separate pieces, the Primeknit method digitally knits the entire upper in just one piece. Knitting fused yarn allows us to fine-tune the exact amount of flexibility and support needed in every part of the shoe. This means lightweight comfort that wraps seamlessly around your foot, whilst fewer materials produce less waste.

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It all started in 2010 with a trip to the ‘techtextil’ fair in Frankfurt, Germany. There, they spotted a knitted glove on display. It was made of thermoplastic fuse yarns which had been finished in a way that the glove was both flexible and stable. It sparked this idea in they that they could use the same technology on a shoe.

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Around the same time, adidas Design had just embarked on a collaboration with a number of furniture designers who had been tasked to provide innovative and unconventional shoe design concepts. One thing led to the other, and they were soon in talks with one of these furniture designers – Alexander Taylor – on how a shoe with a knitted upper could potentially look.

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The project team: Martin Jobst, Astrid Lang and Stefan Tamm.

They started a thorough investigation into knitting technology as well as knitting machines and started to pull in external flat knit experts for advice and built strong relationships with machine suppliers in Germany who helped to produce the first prototypes.

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Then the first milestone meeting approached: they went into their first official presentation to their adidas brand Chief Marketing Officer Hermann Deininger.

Fortunately, Hermann liked the concept and its overall potential. He immediately committed to sponsoring their idea, turning it into a special project that would sit outside all existing categories. They had their mandate and 12 months to develop the final product.

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Only a year after project inception, they wowed the Marketing and Sales community with the first official series of Primeknit shoes. Following the event, Running was selected as the pilot category and the decision was taken to produce a limited edition of 2012 pairs of Primeknit Running shoes in Germany to launch at the Olympics.

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They afeter lookinto applying alternative knitting technologies to the shoe which would allow them to achieve massive savings in production time and cost. They also plan to produce a more commercial version of the shoe that will be ranged for other categories.

Solutions like Primeknit cannot be bought off-the-shelf. They just don’t get delivered to you ready to execute. There are no books they could have referred to for this project – which at the same time was a good thing. They went through numerous iterations and learned through trial and error.

Adidas

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