Adidas goes big in Delhi

1 month ago 10

The German sportswear giant launches its ‘Home of Possibilities’ flagship in the capital, and keeps ‘the experience’ — from customisation to fitness routines — at its core

This week past saw the opening of Adidas’ first flagship store in India.

We have all been to an Adidas outlet. For some, it’s about timeless classics like the Stan Smith or lining up with the Yeezy craze, while others may have been browsing their next kit for a race or training. And then, of course, there are football fans and their never-ending sagas about the latest kit jersey. But in all this, if you ask me, while we have had great products, we may have never had them all under one roof, or any roof at all, finding them online in many cases. At other times, sizes may have been an issue, and there has always remained the unspoken yet slight segregation of the Originals lines vs the sports and performance gear.

The basketball section

To launch the flagship now is a big move for times when social distancing and staying shut have become a norm. It surely seems to exemplify their motto, ‘Impossible is Nothing’ for the brand has broken new ground in finding ways to make the offline shopping experience engaging all over again.

For this flagship, it has it all. Four floors, separate sections for women, men, kids, and special areas for sustainable wear, outdoor gear, limited release lines, an entire area dedicated to football, and a very special ‘Delhi Shop’, which has customisation on offer and also some special release stuff.

It made me think about how buying an Apple product in India, to draw a parallel, still doesn’t feel complete because we lack the ‘Genius Bar’ experience which truly sets the brand apart from the rest in their field. This flagship store manages to deliver not just the goods but the philosophy behind the three-striped brand. And we aren’t being shortchanged with some sort of ‘lite’ version just because it’s India (and we don’t know any better, or because we are used to getting the ‘lesser’ treatment from most international brands). Once inside, you could at the Munich store, or the Dubai one. It’s all that and then, as a bonus, it has some local touches that it is tough to walk in and not feel a connection. And it will be tougher still to go past it and not walk in!

For the football fans

An experience centre

But it’s not mere nostalgia that tugs at the heart strings. The store is very modern and almost seems to be a living, breathing entity that cloaks you, taking you into its folds, transferring you gently from one zone to the next as you walk through it. It’s like walking through their website but in real time. Walls (and even ceilings and floors) are generously dotted with mammoth digital displays with snazzy graphics looping, with displays that are either part mirrors or switch off and become fully reflective mirrors as you approach them. Santanu Hazarika, the award-winning visual artist, has done the artwork all around, drawing inspiration from various local elements, making the entire space seem gutsy street yet artsy chic and most definitely Indian.

The flagship has come up in Connaught Place, and, unlike a regular Adidas store — which is more static and standardised in its appearance — it preserves and glorifies a lot of the colonial charm of the buildings of the area. A masterpiece is the hand-tufted carpet with the trefoil sourced and crafted locally, which adorns the third floor athleisure section.

The Delhi print shop

The store is not just for purchases; think of it as a brand experience centre. Fitness routines run by their in-house team of experts will all be organised, starting from and culminating here. Heritage runs around Lutyens’ Delhi to yoga session in verdant parks, this place will serve as the epicentre for all such (urban) adventures, converting a mere purchase into a lasting enriching experience.

Now the question remains, what if one doesn’t live in Delhi? Can one get this experience online? Well with their new site, sure — some of it, at least. But even then, it won’t be laid out like this candy shop here. So if you want the ‘Willy Wonka’ experience you will need to make your way to this massive mothership of a store the next time you are in the capital. They call it the Home of Possibilities. As I left, I felt I knew why.

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