If you had asked this question in 1924, the answer would have been “in Adi Dassler’s mother’s laundry room.” This laundry room was found in the town of Herzogenaurach in Germany. And in this laundry room, Adolf Dassler conceptualized how to innovate running sneakers.
Currently, Adidas stands tall as the second biggest maker of sportswear, surpassed only by Nike. But where do they physically stand and produce their beloved footwear? The answer is a bit complicated—as is the Adidas origin story.
The Best Product Design: Run A Mile In Their Shoes
But the story of Adolf is a bit more interesting than this. He was originally destined to carry on his father’s dream of professional bread-making in Bavaria before he realized that shoe-making was a far more interesting craft.
Young Adolf also loved sports, and he played them all: skiing, hockey, boxing, football, and running. Adolf was a competitive athlete who loved to connect with his peers through the pursuit of active sport. But you know how whenever you learn something new, you see it everywhere? Adolf focused in on the shoes he and his peers were wearing, and he realized they could all do much better.
The original running sneakers had heavy metal spikes weighing feet down. Adolf realized how problematic these were, and so he chose to use canvas and rubber instead. By 1925, Adidas had three full-time employees making sneakers. By 1928, Olympic athlete Lina Radke was sporting a pair of Adidas running shoes—and the rest is history.
Adidas’ central business headquarters is still in Herzogenaurach, but it has offices in major cosmopolitan cities like New York and Miami. Even more astounding is that Adidas now has more than eleven hundred factories in over sixty-five countries.
Does Adidas Manufacture in the United States?
Many people look for the “Made in the USA” label on their sporting goods, and so they closely scrutinize the country where each item they purchase is made. Of those sixty-five countries where Adidas manufactures shoes, the question of whether any Adidas products are made in the United States is sure to come up.
The short answer was “yes.” In 2016, a 74,000-square-foot manufacturing facility opened in Atlanta, Georgia. This facility’s production was primarily driven by robots, although it did create over one hundred and sixty local jobs. Nicknamed the “Speedfactory,” this plant aimed to manufacture about one million shoes per year.
In 2019, Adidas decided to close this Atlanta facility as well as its Ansbach one. This was not for lack of output needs; this stemmed from the intention of maximizing production capacity as well as freeing up budget and production resources for faster product design. A lot of economics enthusiasts and experts couldn’t help but wonder about the long-term feasibility of keeping mass labor in developed countries.
Are Adidas Shoes Manufactured in China?
Market research says so. In fact, studies estimate that as high as twenty-five percent of Adidas shoes are made in China in three hundred and thirty-seven factories. This should not be surprising, since around thirty percent of global manufacturing production happens in China. Furthermore, Adidas has seen growing popularity and brand engagement in China; why not fuel production with the same people who are enthusiastic about the brand?
This number is expected to change in the next few years, some of this workforce is being pulled into other Asian countries where the cost of owning and running facilities is lower.
We said there are over sixty-five countries where Adidas shoes are made, and yet we’ve accounted for two of them. Let’s return to our original question: where are Adidas shoes made?
Adidas Shoe Manufacturing is a Global Operation
The Asian continent has more Adidas shoe factories than anywhere else. We’ve already addressed the hundreds of Chinese factories. India has ninety-nine factories, roughly a third of China’s total. Indonesia is a close third with seventy-nine factories. Vietnam follows closely behind with seventy-six factories. Mid-level numbers of factories per country range from between ten and sixty, and include the countries of Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Pakistan. The lower tier of factories per country is less than ten, and includes countries like Bangladesh (previously a big player for Nike), Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Hong Kong, and Macao. Russia has merely four factories.
Let’s not forget that the United States is not the only American country out there and available for manufacturing power. Between North America and South America, there are eighty-two non-US Adidas manufacturing facilities. Canada has twenty-nine facilities, making it a distant second to the United States. Mexico has nineteen factories, so it’s following Canada pretty closely. Brazil and Argentina are the big production contributors from South America. Other places where Adidas factories can be found include the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Paraguay.
The Middle East has fifteen Adidas factories, but this figure is somewhat misleading. Thirteen of these factories can be found in Turkey, alone; the other two are in Israel and Jordan.
Africa has a surprising number of factories, standing tall at twenty-four. The majority of these factories are in South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho, but there are a handful of factories spread between Egypt and Tunisia.
The number of factories in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand is constantly fluctuating. Worker wages are higher here, and so companies often struggle to justify the extended employment of laborers in these places.
This article has been a breakdown of Adidas manufacturing facilities that answer the question, “Where are Adidas shoes made?” Adidas is continuing to maintain global production, although it has shown a willingness to experiment with new facilities if they offer manufacturing innovations that can help drive their bottom line. As the global economy and workforce continue to evolve, Adidas will likely pivot further to adapt its processes accordingly.