Today we were lucky enough to attend a Q&A with the Creative Director of adidas’ Sport Style Division, Dirk Schönberger. Held in the UltraLounge in Selfridges London, the adidas legend was there to support the pre launch of the Ultra BOOST Collective trainers.
Designed by him and James Carnes (Creative Director of adidas’ Sport Performance Teams), these limited edition trainers were pre released today in OFFSPRING Selfridges and will be on general release on Saturday 6th June.
Here is a snippet from the Q&A with Dirk Schönberger…
How did your career begin?
I studied fashion in Munich and started my own menswear brand in 1995 which was inspired by the punk and techno wave from early 90’s. My collections focused on deconstructed tailoring with sportswear vibe.
What’s the pros and cons of working for yourself vs adidas?
Working for yourself is hell but very satisfying as you get to do what you want but a collaboration can be invaluable; I’ve learnt to communicate to 100s of people and I wanted to work for a democratic brand. It’s great seeing things you’ve touched from a design perspective on the high st when you’re walking around.
Adidas – how does a sportswear brand lead in designer space?
adidas had already established themselves in this market working with Stella, Yoji Yamamoto and Jeremy Scott. Bringing me in was like implementing virus into a company! If you keep going in one direction, you will end up in a solid place but that’s not where adidas want to be. We’re keeping the heritage but with a designer influence. It’s an evolution.
Where do you get your influences from?
I walked here and always walk with my eyes open whether I’m in Berlin or London. I love culture – art, music, cinema, reading books. I just watched Mad Max and loved the construction of the set, so watch this space!
What’s your working week like?
I have routine meeting with designers, where we work on the new collection and strategy meetings. I live in Berlin so am based there on the weekend. It’s only when I step out of the office that I am inspired and can draw.
What’s the most exciting aspect of your job?
It’s exciting to see young designers pushing limits but then meeting Pharrell Williams last week was also great.
Sum up the Ultra BOOST Collective?
In line running shoe new this spring with a revolutionary sole that looks like Styrofoam – they are the most amazing thing I’ve ever had on my feet! I worked with James Carnes on this and we were scared to make them so simple but wanted to focus on the materials, using man-made yarn that’s only available in white alongside black organic wool. Sports clothes used to be made from wool and we are re-visiting this as we believe people are looking for something that refers back to their daily lives.
Collaborations are big, how do you choose who to work with?
I don’t want someone new that isn’t innovative; we all knew that Pharrell and Kanye would do something different and push boundaries
What’s the process for working with a designer or icon?
I trust the designers we work with but it’s important they don’t leave the DNA of adi completely behind, so we educate them and show them the archive. Taking elements of new design and updating them with new features or materials is essential to keep pushing boundaries.
How do you measure the success?
For me, it’s important it works creatively for us but obviously it has to work commercially as well.
How do you keep it fresh?
I like to play with elements that are recognisable to the brand such as the shell toes. I tell my team to go through the archives and de-construct trainers and then reconstruct them differently to get a new view. It’s also important to take time out of the office to get new influences.
What’s it like working with Kanye and Pharrell?
It’s a great music x fashion x sportswear fusion. They both build an idea like a song so it opened a door in my head to think differently. Kanye is interesting, inspiring and sometimes wild but he brings together certain elements that I wouldn’t naturally think of or predict.
What is it that drives adidas forward?
We want an emotional connection between us and our consumers that is approachable. We’ve built a culture of creation in the industry and we want to continue this.
I can’t say for legal reasons as we may already be in talks with them but I’d love to start collabs with famous artists