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Why Adidas is venturing into period-proof activewear

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Adidas may trail Nike in its share of the sportswear market globally, but its recent move into period-proof activewear could see the brand win extra points with female consumers.

Last week, the brand unveiled TechFit Period Proof tights, a new product innovation that features an absorbent layer to help protect against leaks. The tights are the latest release in Adidas’ Stay in Play collection, which aims to drive menstruators’ participation in sport.

“Our ambition with this product is to keep more people in sport by giving them the confidence to train on their period. We’re so proud of what we were able to achieve, and look forward to introducing more product innovation in this space,”  Kim Buerger, senior product manager – women’s apparel at Adidas, said in a statement. 

According to research undertaken by St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, one in four girls leave sports during adolescence, with one of the key reasons cited being fear of leakage whilst on their period. Adidas said the high dropout rate emphasised the need for better performance wear for those who menstruate.

US brand Thinx and Australia’s ModiBodi, which are both leaders in period-proof underwear products, have already picked up on the demand for leak-proof activewear. 

Thinx has a range of activewear products including training shorts, cycle shorts, a leotard and leggings. And in March, ModiBodi introduced the 7/8 Recycled Active Legging, made from 78 per cent recycled materials.

The difference is that the Adidas tights are designed as a support when worn with a tampon or pad and not a complete solution. 

“We started designing this collection from the inside out. We knew it had to be comfortable and breathable, but most importantly, it had to serve its purpose of helping to protect against leakage,” Buerger said. 

The biggest challenge they faced was testing. The team spent over two years developing and testing the product.

“It was incredibly rigorous and went through several rounds, because we had to be sure our product could deliver,” she said. 

Marketing executive Kate Russell, a former regional community manager at Lululemon, believes that the move will be well received by consumers. 

“Like many women, I am all for products that can support women during their menstrual cycle to ensure they can continue doing what they love and in this case, it is sport and working out,” Russell told Inside Retail

“The statistics around teenagers dropping out of sport due to their monthly cycle is a really sad reality. If the product can physically help women during their cycles by providing protection against leakage and also mentally through instilling that extra bit of confidence, I am all for it.”

Educational initiatives

Adidas generated sales of €19.8 billion in 2020, and alongside the obvious commercial aspect of the Stay in Play collection, the brand also aims to normalise conversations around periods and ensure teens and adults have a better understanding of the dropout issue through education.  

To do so, the brand has partnered with leading sports research scientist Dr Georgie Bruinvels to create free resources and lesson plans for PE teachers in schools around the world.

Bruinvels, director of sports science and female athlete lead at sports data startup Orreco, said while women’s participation in sport is progressing, the subject of menstruation is still ignored. 

“Education will enable progressive discussion, helping to break down barriers associated with physical activity and the menstrual cycle,” she said. 

“We know, more than ever, the importance of exercise for both mental and physical well-being, and I am excited to see the positive impact this campaign will have.”

In addition, the brand will tap into its network of famous athletes, Olympic medallist Jazmin Sawyers and WNBA player Layshia Clarendon, to share their experiences of training and competing on their periods.

“The more brands can provide education and resources about understanding periods, especially amongst teens, is a sensible move in my eyes,” Russell said. 

According to Adidas, this is all part of a “roadmap of innovations” coming out this year under its Watch Us Move campaign, which aims to revolutionise products and services for the brand’s diverse female community. 

The post Why Adidas is venturing into period-proof activewear appeared first on Inside Retail.

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