Take a look around and there is a good chance that, after the ubiquity of denim, sportswear will form a key part of many people's wardrobe.
In Germany, Adidas is out in front.
Small wonder too. In recent years the company has, more successfully than its cometitors, extended its remit to be as much about panache as about performance.
The Adidas Performance Centre in Frankfurt - a glass building with diamond chaped windows like the net of a giant football goal - attracts hoardes of sportswear and fashion fans, even overshadowing the city's popular Adidas originals store.
Now is a good time to visit. This year sees the 10th anniversary of Y-3, Adidas's pioneering collaboration with the Japanese minimalist fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, which is being celebrated with the new 'Adidas for Yohji Yamamoto' footwear line. New collections from Stella McCartney are worth looking out for too.
There is also the launch of one of Adidas’s most technically advanced sports shoes to date. Climacool Ride uses the company’s patented technology to provide this running shoe with 360-degree ventilation, typically reducing foot temperature by 12%. That may mean little on a catwalk but it means a lot on a marathon.
In addition is the launch of adiZero Crazy Light, the company’s translucent nylon exoskeleton; less than 1mm thick, it is the world’s lightest basketball shoe.
The company was created in 1948 when a family sports shoe business split after a falling out between brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler, the former creating Adidas, the latter forming Puma. Adidas may have its heart in track and field, but it has successfully extended its remit to be as much about panache as performance.
Adidas has been a cultural icon and brand of choice for the likes of Bob Marley, Mick Jagger, Marvin Gaye and, most famously, rap group Run DMC, long before style-led products became part of its remit. According to the company’s marketing whizz Gary Aspden, it is only in the last decade that Adidas has embraced its influence on fashion.
‘The company has played a part in revolutionising the way people dress everyday,’ Aspden says. ‘Go into high fashion stores now and you often see products that had their origins in the work of brands like this one.’
Adidas’s ability to merge the trendy and the technical is being cemented further. Dirk Schönberger has recently joined the company as head creative director of the Sports Style division. He is the ex head of design for Joop, another German fashion success story, who has his own eponymous label.
Schönberger is working on the next evolution of Adidas’s SLVR label whereby fluid technical fabrication and soft tailored silhouettes will create formal sportswear for men and women.
Adidas may even change the way consumers buy their trainers: it has recently worked with Intel to develop the adiVerse Virtual Footwear Wall, an interactive programme that allows shoppers to explore 8,000 Adidas products in 360 degrees on a giant touchscreen which will launch in 2012.
‘Sport and fashion focus on the body, so an overlap between the two was perhaps inevitable. Sports stars now project a healthy and powerful image but can also be very glamorous,’ says Schönberger. ‘However, I think it comes down to the fact that people like to wear sophisticated but comfortable and functional clothes in their busy everyday lives. Sportswear was once seen as the opposite of the fashion shown on the runways. But the appreciation and use of sportswear has changed, so now a brand like Adidas can be relevant to people of all ages and social classes. And that gives it an even stronger influence on culture.’