Using an interactive “Area 19” exhibition and the star power of Juventus and Argentine striker Paulo Dybala, adidas presented with great pomp and circumstance its latest football silhouette: the Copa 19+. Set in the heart of the football prominent city of Milan, HYPEBEAST France was lucky enough to take it all in and to discover just how adidas’ new boot would revolutionize the sport.
Setting the tone of the event, a large door marked “Area 19” greeted visitors while experimental music resonated throughout the space. After entering, the group was guided into an elevator, taking us underground where we were then guided by an AI projected onto a flat screen TV. Soon after removing our sneakers and being encouraged to put on a special laboratory jacket, the group was then taken into the “Technology of the Future.” As we continued down through the elaborate staging until the end of the tunnel, Paulo Dybala and the revolutionary adidas Copa 19+ sat there waiting. At first glance at the boot, one conventional attribute is noticeably lacking: its laces.
In fact, the Copa 19+ is the first pair of adidas leather cleats to lack the traditional feature. “It’s a way to go further with the concept of touch,” says product manager Gaétan Saint-André. “The goal with this product was to redefine the touch of the ball, and in this sense it was necessary to remove all that could interfere with that; all that was not necessary on the product.” To do so, adidas had to reinvent properties originally encompassing its Copa range and update it with new tech. Moving in that direction, the sportswear giant added Primeknit to its silhouette, and most importantly, developed Fusion Skin technology.
“Five years of work,” says Dave Surace, director of the adidas football branch, when referring to the Three Stripes’ latest achievements. “Fusion Skin allows us to achieve a level of flexibility that is unparalleled in the industry. Secondly, it allows us to remove all the seams on the leather upper,” Surace states. “On traditional leather, you always have to add stitching at every design insertion. Here, we have a rod that is made seamless, which allows us to be more minimalist and beautiful on the design, and especially to remove all points of friction between the shoe and the foot. The last ingredient on Fusion Skin is the limitation of water absorption. Leather naturally absorbs water, this technology reduces the absorption rate by 20%, eliminating the feeling of a heavy foot once it starts to rain. Fusion Skin can transcend the leather.”
In terms of comfort, adidas has simply redesigned its entire manufacturing process, starting from the very anatomy of the foot. “The silhouette is very special, we have designed the outline of the shoe on a foot shape, which follows the contours of a standard foot,” says designer Arnau Sanjuan. “We challenged the whole industrial process to really create a product perfectly adapted to the human foot.” The final results are an elastic material on the collar, a shock absorbing sole, and a plate to remove the pressure points.
“A pair that I feel like wearing for months,” assures Paulo Dybala, who stepped out into a customized black colorway during his matchup against Manchester United. “On the X model, which I wore previously, I found that at the end of the matches the shoe was a bit loose. The Copa 19 does not move, and today, like tomorrow, it will have the same fit. It brings security and control when you shoot or dribble; and that’s important.” Dybala, who is therefore delighted to have a pair suited to his style of play, as his personal style, continued, “With the leather you could fear the rain, but yesterday I played in these conditions and the sensations were good, I did not have this heaviness at the foot. It is lighter, and also more comfortable than a synthetic.”
In the design of the Copa 19+, adidas perfectly blended Copa’s heritage with these new technologies. The Copa is one of the most iconic names in the football industry, and everyone can remember the Copa Mundial, however it needed a new design. With the 19+, there are references to the original lines, but they have been revisited by this anatomical form. “We wanted to reveal the beauty, the harmony of the shoe,” states Sanjuan. But how exactly did adidas incorporate the fashion aspect? “We realized that before, the players wanted purely performance; today they also want to have style. With this Copa 19+, we tried to create a “concept car” that pleases a target who always wants leather, but who wants a design out of the ordinary and something new. Merging fashion and performance is more and more relevant,” designer Gaétan adds. As implied by the recent Originals campaign, which for the first time in the history of the Three Stripes showcased one of its athletes in the spotlight, Paul Pogba, segmentation was no longer a necessity. From there, imagining variations of Fusion Skin technology on lifestyle pairs was the next obvious step.
“In parallel, we are developing an offer that is inspired by football products but dedicated to being worn on the streets. Because on the one hand the pro players have become icons that go beyond the sports environment, and on the other hand the consumer footballer does not play once a week, he lives the football culture 24/7. So we propose products inspired by the performance for the street. The ambition is to offer players and consumers in general the opportunity to wear variations of shoes whether in the field, in theaters, and on the street,” continues Gaétan. “With the exception that “we will not compromise the performance of a product for design. We have quality standards that we can not compromise, that’s what makes adidas DNA”. The same goes for Arnau, “the industry is changing and the shoes must be beautiful, it is not only the technicality that people are looking for, so it is a challenge. But not at the expense of quality and performance, which must always prevail.” Even as a revolutionary, adidas does not forget its precepts. And like the adidas Football Copa 19+, heritage and innovation will always intermingle in harmony.