Outrunning the Competition

Adidas' new megastore opens in Soho with smart sneakers and a McCartney

So there's a war in Iraq, Satan in the White House, and an environment in steady decay. Yawn. Now for some real news: Anna Kournikova will cut what must be the world's largest shoelace, wrapped around the new Adidas shop! The groundbreaking event occurs at noon this Saturday, when the tennis star (along with Sebastian Telfair of the Blazers) opens the largest Adidas Sports Performance Store ever, located on Broadway and Houston.

The two-floor, almost 30,000-square-foot venue is the fifth Adidas Sports Performance store in the U.S., and the world's largest. With a slew of advertising and celebrities like Kournikova, Telfair, Jeremy Shockey, and Laila Ali on hand, the company certainly spared no excess in promoting the event. A day of autograph signing, prize giveaways, and raffles will round out the day.

"We want people to think of the Adidas Sports Performance Store as more than just a store, but a destination for athletes," says Paul McGuire, head of retail development for Adidas America. In keeping with the theme, the shop's décor revolves around a sporty aesthetic: A simple black-and-white color scheme was chosen so as not to detract from the goods, shoes are displayed on running starter blocks instead of shoe racks, and products hang from what looks like weight-lifting bars.

Unlike the Adidas Originals Store on Wooster that hawks old school, street-style gear, the Sports Performance store will showcase Adidas' new golden children: the Adidas by Stella McCartney apparel line, Mi Adidas technology, and the adidas_1, the world's first intelligent running shoe. Clearly, Adidas is banking on a guaranteed audience among the city's moneyed, fashion-conscious technophiles (with an athletic bent, of course.) Now that Yohji Yamamoto's Y-3 Adidas line is in its sixth successful season, the company turns to McCartney's clout and talent to capture more of active wear's $39 billion market. Sales of the around-$250 adidas_1 have no doubt been buoyed by a sweet video/commercial from Spike Jonze, featuring vocals by Yeah Yeah Yeah's frontwoman Karen O. And whether you're an athlete or not, the Mi Adidas section of the shop will allow you to customize your sneakers for fit and function and even choose colors and personalized monograms (the shoe arrives in the mail three weeks later). This is apparently the only place in New York to score all three: adidas_1 and Adidas by Stella McCartney have sold out elsewhere, and Mi Adidas is only available in-house.

While this latest addition to the Broadway and Houston intersection might incite further breast-beating about Soho's transformation into honking megamall, let's be honest—the die's been cast for a while, long before Pottery Barn hawked that first potpourri burner on the corner. We're only shocked developers weren't able to squeeze one more skyline-obscuring boutique hotel or luxury condo in that space.

 
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