Adidas Originals Store Opens Today In Square

Jose L. A. camacho

The Adidas Originals Store celebrates the grand opening of its third North American location last night in Harvard Square.

The Adidas apparel store that closed up its Mass. Ave. storefront three years ago has reinvented itself with a look from the past.

This morning, the Adidas “Originals Store” will open its doors to the Cambridge crowd, selling reintroduced clothing and footwear from its classic lines.

“We have a very exclusive product here and we feel that the market is the right fit,” Kerry Barnes, the director of retail stores for Adidas, said last night at a promotional party for the new store.

According to Adidas spokesperson Kelly Middal, all products for sale at the Cambridge location take their cue from past designs and bear the clover-like “trefoil” logo, which was first introduced in 1972.

“People like to call this gear retro, but it’s not,” she said. “These products are actually the original.”

The store carries a selection of track jackets, pants and shorts and several models of sneakers.

Only two other classics stores exist in the United States, in the SoHo area of New York City and in South Beach in Miami, though some of the revamped line is available through other retailers, including the Tannery in the Square.

Barnes said he expected the Square to be an accommodating location for the originals line because of its “eclectic” clientele and its historical ties.

“We really feel that Harvard’s rich history, matches Adidas’ history,” he said, adding that Adidas was founded in 1920 as a company that built shoes for professional athletes.

But the store’s last attempt to carve out a niche at Harvard flopped after just a year.

Adidas first moved in to its location on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton Street in March 2000, but closed up shop in April 2001.

Barnes said that though the store closed then because “it wasn’t the right fit” with the Square, Adidas thought the intervening period has made potential customers more receptive.

“The Square has changed a lot over the past four years,” he said. “There are many more retailers and we feel that this is now the right market.”

He pointed to the apparel selection as practical, “lifestyle” pieces, touting a 1976 training shoe he said was regularly worn by Starsky and Hutch and reappeared in the recent movie.

On hand last night to explain how the originals merchandise is chosen was Jon Wexler, who is in charge of selecting Adidas footwear for the U.S. market.

“Basically we look in the vault and see what was good then and reintroduce it for now,” he said.

“That’s how we carve out our niche,” he explained, picking up a 1974 driving shoe with Goodyear soles. “This thing’s on fire. On the West coast, this is pimp, but on the East coast it may have a more European flavor.”

Barnes said that Adidas is very conscious of demographics in its marketing.

“We have our core age group of 18 to 24-year-olds right here in the Square,” he said.

In order to reach out to that core age group, Barnes said that the Adidas store will be teaming up with a group of Harvard students to promote the undergraduate-run Veritas record label.

The label, which includes six Harvard student bands, will receive merchandise and financial support from the store.

Matthew L. Siegel ’05, the vice president for Veritas, said that Adidas was “looking for something organic and local” to work with in Cambridge and learned about Veritas through some students.

Siegel said that he had worked closely with the store to organize last night’s promotional party, which included a handful of student guests.

“Adidas really has a focus on what’s going on locally,” said Daniel J. Zaccagnino ’05, the president of Veritas. “They want to put student artwork in the store, play student music while people are shopping and just get to know the neighbors.”

Nicholas H. Ma ’05, who was also at the party last night, praised Adidas for “not just selling shoes, but also enhancing the Harvard music scene.”

“It’s great to see newcomers to the Square connecting to newcomers to Harvard,” said Ma, referring to Veritas, which plans to release its first CD, a compilation of songs by student bands, in May.

Amidst the buzz in the sports apparel store’s last night was one veteran of the athletic world.

Modeling a pair of remade 1980s “Ivan Lendl Comp” tennis shoes was the tennis great himself.

“These are my favorites,” Lendl said, lifting his pant leg to display the three-stripe logo. “When this shoe came out it was absolutely revolutionary.”

And representing the New England Revolution, Boston’s professional soccer team, were team members Jay Heaps and Pat Noonan, who sported gear from their sponsor.

“This stuff is what everyone’s trying to get right now, but can’t,” Heaps said of the classics design.

But when doors open tomorrow, Cambridge consumers will have much easier access to the originals line—which Sam W. Lessin ’05 predicted would sell.

“I think it’s a really interesting concept,” he said. “Their retro stuff is a different flavor than traditional sportswear.”

—Staff writer Wendy D. Widman can be reached at widman@fas.harvard.edu.