Adidas is rolling out 3D Runner, its 3D-printed, custom-made running shoe, priced at $333 per pair, on a limited basis at its flagship store in New York City. The shoe also will become available this week in London and Tokyo.
Potential buyers were able to sign up and make reservations via the athletic gear retailer's Adidas Confirmed sneaker collector mobile application earlier this week, and shoe pickup starts Thursday.
Adidas' aim with 3D Runner is to have customers come to a store, run on a treadmill while footprint measurements are taken, and print a shoe that matches their foot contours exactly and more closely aligns with a runner's movements.
According to Adidas, the 3D Runner's components include "an engineered 3D web structure with dense zones in high force areas and less dense zones in the low force areas, allowing for the optimum level of performance. The 3D Runner also features a 3D printed heel counter, which is integrated into the midsole and avoids the typical process of gluing or stitching."
Adidas has been making a point to think outside the box in terms of what its shoes can be made of, as well as rethinking how they can be manufactured. This is not the brand's first effort in 3D-printed shoes, as it recently announced a 3D-printed shoe model made of recycled ocean waste.
This is an admittedly more limited effort in custom-manufactured performance shoes for serious runners, and it's hard to imagine Adidas being able to ramp up 3D Runner manufacturing on a massive scale. However, this is the company that also introduced the highly automated Speedfactory manufacturing concept, so maybe it has big plans to move beyond this initial limited rollout.
Embracing new technology is one part of an overall corporate strategy that has been producing solid results for Adidas of late. Adidas overtook Under Armour as the second-biggest sports brand in the U.S. a couple of months ago, and appears to be closing in on Nike's dominance in the shoe market.
It will be interesting to see how far Adidas can take its experiments in shoe materials and manufacturing processes: The limited availability shoes certainly are not cheap. The company seems to have an open-minded, open-hearted attitude about environmentally-friendly and otherwise progressive business practices, but at the end of the day, its shoes need to sell.