Streetwear enthusiasts live for limited-edition sneaker drops, but the events are notorious for their painfully long lines and frustrating purchase procedures. Until, that is, adidas Originals changed the game at this year’s ComplexCon, held Nov. 3-4 in Long Beach, CA. Armed with an augmented reality shopping experience featuring an autonomous checkout process, the brand aimed to “break barriers” between fans, creators, celebrities and exclusive merchandise. With help from brand partners and cultural icons including Pusha T, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams, the activation became one of the most talked about experiences at this year’s conference.
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At the heart of the activation were adidas’ AR-fueled product drops, which attendees could access by downloading the official ComplexCon app. Once inside the app’s adidas Originals augmented reality store, users received information on where to “Unlock the Drop” (drop sites were set up near various beacons placed inside the venue). Upon locating the drop site, the attendee then scanned an AR-powered cube installation hanging from the ceiling and followed instructions on how to select their size and complete the transaction. The final step was to pick up the new kicks at a designated locker.
The brand also underscored its roots in music with the adidas Sound Labs Grant experience, created in collaboration with Pusha T. In addition to releasing his EQT Cushion 2 sneaker at the show, the hip-hop star and streetwear mogul met with 12 aspiring artists from Los Angeles, all of whom were vying for the adidas Originals Sound Labs Grant for musical development. The artists played their music for Pusha and discussed their work, all within a replica penthouse office setting inspired by an old-school Wall Street-meets-modern culture vibe. Only five musicians made the cut after two days of listening sessions, with a winner slated to be selected in early 2019. The activation space was reserved for Pusha, but connected to a retro bank vault where regular attendees could grab a key and unlock exclusive adidas and ComplexCon merchandise.
To simultaneously celebrate its new L.A.-focused social handle, @adidasLA, and the 25th anniversary of the album “Doggystyle,” adidas additionally partnered with Snoop Dogg on a special pop-up booth featuring a massive replica of the legendary VIP Records sign, as seen in Snoop’s “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” music video from 1993. The artist made a special appearance and signed 25 pairs of adidas Originals P.O.D. System sneakers, all of which had been customized by L.A. artist Gregory Siffs.
Watch: adidas Elevates the Streetwear Drop
Also marking adidas’ ComplexCon presence was the debut of an exclusive line of its P.O.D. System shoes created earlier in the year at one of the brand’s MakerLab workshops. The creators have since participated in several creative sessions with the adidas Originals design team, and shared their experiences at the show. The sneakers will be available in 2019.
Rounding out the activation was the unveiling of Pharrell Williams’ N.E.R.D HU NMD shoe, along with 50 pairs of never-seen-before PW HU P.O.D. Systems designed exclusively for the conference.
“We wanted to enhance the experience for everyone at the show,” says Jason Greenblatt, senior events manager at adidas Originals North America. “We’re on an ongoing journey to find more impactful and personal ways to connect to our consumer. And we thought ComplexCon was a great opportunity for that… Bringing a brand and products to life [through events] really helps us build deeper emotional connections with that consumer. Every opportunity we get we try to build those connections and enable a creative outcome.” Agency: Jam3, Toronto.