04 Aug Urban Outfitters Erases Activewear Brand, Launches Adidas Line
In October of 2015, Urban Outfitters’ year-old fitness & outdoors brand disappeared overnight. A post on Buzzfeed highlighted that both the website and Instagram for the brand, Without Walls, had been removed entirely, almost as though the company was trying to forget a bad memory.
Initially UO had planned to partner with core outdoor brands, including Smartwool, Patagonia, etc. on Without Walls merchandise and even an ambassador team of explorers.
Almost a year after the brand’s silent dismantling, Urban Outfitters (UO) still markets activewear apparel and intimates through its “Activewear” tab online, but seems to have met difficulty in launching a sportswear brand to keep under its umbrella. Some Without Walls fitness apparel is still up on the website, marked with sale prices.
This may be the cause for UO partnering with the big-named Adidas for an Adidas Originals + UO collection, which launched August 1. Along with the line, the two companies started the campaign called “We the Future” that spotlights 19 up-and-coming creative minds that are shaping the industry’s cultural landscape.
Activists, writers, designers, stylists, artists, photographers, musicians, dancers and illustrators will be featured in We the Future. The campaign will also live across social and web platforms, with confessional-style Snapchats from the 19 spokespeople.
On August 25, UO and Adidas will celebrate the campaign with an exclusive launch party, held at Mack Sennett Studios. The event is invite-only, with 90 tickets to be given away to consumers at three Urban Outfitters stores (Space 15 Twenty, UO Santa Monica, UO Melrose) on August 20.
Adidas Original + UO line leans on Adidas’ iconic three leaves design
While the Adidas Original + UO line leans on Adidas’ iconic three leaves design, the long-forgotten Without Walls brand was a nod to more outdoor and adventurist consumers. This may indicate that although UO is a lifestyle brand that touts the theme of bohemian wanderlust, its consumers are still very much not outdoor adventurers, preferring athleisure especially when it comes with a throwback 90s punch.
At the same time, outdoor brand Fjällräven takes a spot on the home page of urbanoutfitters.com (below the tab of the big Adidas banners), marketing their Kanken and Kanken Mini backpacks. But it’s obvious that adding Fjällräven to UO’s product assortment is wholly driven by the brand’s stylistic appeal; you don’t see any high-performance pants or jackets alongside.
For the time being — and we project even farther — UO will remain a fashion-driven brand for non-outdoor consumers. This focus may, however, lend itself to more sportswear collaborations — and you can thank ‘athleisure’ for that.