Eight years in, the Adidas Ultraboost is legendary in its design and standards as a running and lifestyle shoe. At its release in 2015, the Boost midsole was ground-breaking, and although other brands have caught up in terms of performance, the Ultraboost style remains unique. That “uniqueness in ubiquity” approach allows the shoe to remain a standard in the industry and helps it remain fluid within its own boundaries. This means more opportunities for coupling the history of the Ultraboost with new stories that resonate within the running community.
While the Ultraboost 22 received a quiet release back in December, it received a notable boost in early March 2022 with an initiative geared towards women, featuring a brand-new colorway of the Ultraboost 22 with a women-specific last. Call it a physical representation of Adidas’s support within the female running community.
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Designed by an all-women team (talk about girl-power!), the shoe may revolutionize the way companies create footwear for women. Using women-specific insights and a database of 1.2 million footscans, the Ultraboost 22 has been constructed specifically for the female foot, making it the first version of the Ultraboost to do so. However, Adidas isn’t stopping there. Thanks to a new partnership with the international charity White Ribbon, Adidas is spreading its women-centric mission to new fronts.
We had the opportunity to speak with Rebecca Gough, Senior Manager of Adidas Runners Communities, and Nora Wilimzig, Senior Manager of Product, about the new colorway launch and what this initiative looks like.
The Ultraboost 22 used extensive data about the female foot to achieve a fit truly specific to women. Do you see this trend continuing in future products?
NORA: So I can tell you already, yes we will! For the Ultraboost 22, this was the first time we’ve made a women-specific fit as our main model. We will have this carried forward to other models as well. The 1.2 million foot scale studies helped confirm the design work Adidas was already investigating in regards to specificity for the female foot. For all the future women’s models of the Ultraboost, we intend to stick with the women-specific model we’ve created here for the Ultraboost 22. This will help us give our female running community the chance to get better, perform better, and make the impossible possible.
BITR: Significant fit improvements in the women’s Ultraboost 22 are only part of the picture. In addition to its 360-degree fit improvement for the female foot, the latest version of this uber-bouncy favorite is designed to deliver 4% more forefoot energy return for women than its previous iteration.Shop Ultraboost 22 – Women
The “Impossible is Nothing” campaign Adidas is running is really powerful in how it highlights women both inside and outside of sport as they “crush the status quo” and “conquer their own impossible.” How does this latest project with White Ribbon and Amanda Sussman contribute to this message?
REBECCA: The educational playbook is something we’re super proud of. We knew that to create lasting change in safety for female runners, we had to do it through education. That’s why it was really important for us to partner with experts like White Ribbon and Amanda Sussman when we looked at creating this initiative. During this process, we’ve been able to learn, share, and exchange knowledge. We applied their expertise to the context of running, which has been really, really powerful because we can look at how gender inequality and harassment actually impact the culture of running around us. At Adidas running, we’re really conscious of making sure that our community members feel safe, accepted, and feel that they belong so that they can bring their best and most inspired selves to each and every run that we provide.
BITR: As a female runner myself, there have been many instances where I’ve adjusted my running routine or behaviors out of concerns I’ve had for my safety. Not going for a run simply because it’s dark outside is soul-crushing, but I just don’t want to flirt with the risk of something happening. I have certainly felt and experienced many things Adidas is trying to change through this educational playbook, so I’m personally pretty pumped for this initiative.
For those of you unfamiliar, White Ribbon is a global charity that’s leading the conversation on the issue of male violence against women. The organization is now in its 30th year, and you can learn more about its initiatives here. Advocate and author Amanda Sussman helped the brand create a playbook of in-depth allyship tools and action steps to help the running community. The aim is to encourage men and boys to take accountability in ensuring everyone is safe to run when, where, and how they want.
Sussman shared the following quote about her hopes for the partnership, saying, “Sadly, being verbally or physically harassed while running disproportionately affects women and other vulnerable groups, forcing them to be vigilant, change their running habits, and live in constant fear for their safety. This is not an issue that will solve itself.”
We’re excited to see where this project goes. Are there any sneak peeks you can provide to the BITR audience?
REBECCA: Right now, we’re in phase one of the educational playbook, and what we’ve learned here is really dialing into different forms of harassment and how they take shape. We found that women are nearly three times more likely to be harassed on a run than men. We take that, identify the root cause, and look at men’s role and how they can learn and self-reflect to become active allies and advocates for women’s safety in running.
Once completed, the playbook will be given to our Adidas captains and coaches, so about 250 individuals worldwide. We’re also releasing an allyship toolkit for members of our running community that can be found on the Adidas runners blog. Allyship content will be posted on our socials throughout the whole year, so keep an eye out!
BITR: To see a global brand like Adidas take a stand on such a global issue gives me hope. Their ability to leverage their platform in collaboration with White Ribbon and Amanda Sussman reiterates the importance of protecting women in our communities. Coupling that support with releasing a new colorway in the Ultraboost is great in bringing more attention to this issue. In their ongoing commitment to women and female runners, I think this is a great “boost” to the future inclusivity of the sport.
Adidas also shared a quote from the executive director of White Ribbon, Humberto Carolo. He said, “Our mission is to end all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination, once and for all. We want all men to fulfill the White Ribbon pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women, but we can’t do this alone.”
It certainly sounds like all sides are ready to commit to the partnership full force, and we will be curious to see the new playbook for ourselves.
The newest colorway of the Ultraboost 22 launched globally on March 3 in-store and online for $190, so you can pick up your pair today. Keep an eye out for more Adidas and White Ribbon content as the partnership reaches full swing.Shop Ultraboost 22 – Women
Portions of our interview were condensed and edited throughout this story.