Seeking to address the special needs of people with breasts, Adidas on Wednesday announced the launch of its new SS22 Bra Collection, available worldwide on Monday in stores and via its website and app.
Noting that 90% of women don't wear the right size sports bra – which can impede sports performance, damage tissues and cause pain – the company said it designed the SS22 line with 43 new styles in 72 sizes, according to a company blog post.
The assortment was developed with the help of Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, a pioneering biomechanics researcher and head of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K.
The major sports apparel brands, including Adidas, have let upstart DTC brands and Lululemon corner the market on activewear for women, missing out on what continues to be a growth story.
To fill the gap and take advantage of what is a significant sales opportunity, retailers have turned to private labels, according to Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports with the NPD Group. As a result, last year private label brands accounted for nearly 44% of women's activewear sales, (not including DTC brands or vertical brands like Lululemon and Athleta), while number two Nike had just 8% market share, according to his research. Private labels account for just 18% of men's activewear sales, reflecting how well the major brands address their needs, he said.
Especially when it comes to sports bras, women's needs are highly individual — in terms of the idiosyncrasies of each woman's body as well as the performance requirements for various physical activities — making the Adidas collection a standout, at long last, Powell said by phone.
"Over the years, we've typically seen brands offer up a new sports bra program, and the headline is 'the only sports bra she ever needs.' And nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "The idea that there's only one bra that she needs is just preposterous, and I have urged brands to think about bringing products to market in a different way for women than they do for men. So I think this is absolutely a fabulous step in the right direction."
In its attempt to address that, at least when it comes to sports bras, Adidas has done its research — literally. The importance of proper support during physical activity — even simply walking — is paramount given the way movement affects breasts. Without proper support during running, for example, they can move as much as 19 centimeters, even possibly withstanding the G-force of a Formula One race car driver, according to Adidas's post.
If the product performs as well as promised, Adidas stands to gain not just sales but also brand loyalty and crossover sales of other merchandise, Powell said.
"I have said for years to all the brands — if you win the bra, you will win the woman," he said.