About Boardroom

Boardroom is a sports, media and entertainment brand co-founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman and focused on the intersection of sports and entertainment. Boardroom’s flagship media arm features premium video/audio, editorial, daily and weekly newsletters, showcasing how athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward. Boardroom’s ecosystem encompasses B2B events and experiences (such as its renowned NBA and WNBA All-Star events) as well as ticketed conferences such as Game Plan in partnership with CNBC. Our advisory arm serves to consult and connect athletes, brands and executives with our broader network and initiatives.

Recent film and TV projects also under the Boardroom umbrella include the Academy Award-winning Two Distant Strangers (Netflix), the critically acclaimed scripted series SWAGGER (Apple TV+) and Emmy-nominated documentary NYC Point Gods (Showtime).

Boardroom’s sister company, Boardroom Sports Holdings, features investments in emerging sports teams and leagues, including the Major League Pickleball team, the Brooklyn Aces, NWSL champions Gotham FC, and MLS’ Philadelphia Union.

All Rights Reserved. 2022.

Adidas is Setting New Standards at Copa América

Boardroom catches up with Adidas Football’s SVP of Design & Product ahead of Copa América to get an inside look at the creative process behind kits, cleats, and more.

As temperatures continue to soar, so does the excitement surrounding a summer of soccer, and Adidas remains firmly entrenched at the center of the game.

Stadiums stateside and across the pond echo with cheers, and streets buzz with pre-match anticipation. In the middle of it all, Adidas stands as more than a sportswear company; it’s a symbol of continuous innovation, athleticism, and the unwavering passion that fuels every match. From iconic jerseys worn by international stars to cutting-edge footwear engineered for speed and agility, the Three Stripes continues to redefine what it means to be at the forefront of the beautiful game.

This year’s Copa América tournament begins on Thursday night, with Lionel Messi and the defending champion Argentina facing Canada from Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Earlier this month, Boardroom caught up with veteran creative Sam Handy, SVP of Design & Product for Adidas Football, to get an inside look at how the company prepares for such a big event.

For all six nations wearing Adidas uniforms at Copa América, Handy revealed that “about two years of love and attention goes into the design,” which is all about striking a functional balance while also maintaining the federation’s culture. For example, those iconic powder blue and white stripes on Argentina’s home kits are a mainstay and so unmistakable on the pitch.

Sure, it’s an easy design for La Albiceleste at its core. But true fans notice how subtlely different the stripes shift with each release, especially when considering small details like the iconography.

One addition also very necessary from the last Copa kits? A third star on the left side and patch in the center to denote the team’s 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup win in Qatar.

While Handy acknowledges the simplicity in Argentina’s look, there’s another nation whose jerseys are synonymous with creativity and imaginativeness. The newest Jamaica national team jerseys mark the second season Adidas has worked with the federation, which hopes to emerge from its group against the likes of Mexico, Ecuador, and Venezuela.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

The home unis pay tribute to Jamaican nature, featuring symbols of its national bird (swallow-tail hummingbird) and national flower (lignum vitae). For when they’re the designated away team, look for Heimir Hallgrímsson’s men to wear a similar illustration, but this time in the eye-catching hues of the national flag. The vibrant pattern juxtaposed against black side panels is undoubtedly a head-turner.

“I think it’s the Jamaica jersey that a lot of people really wanted from us,” said Handy. “We’re giving the people something really characterful and some really nice storytelling.”

(Image courtesy of Adidas)

In addition to Jamaica and Argentina, Handy and his team designed the kits for Peru, Mexico, Chile, and Colombia. As for the easiest of the six, the classic red sash on Peru’s kits remains unchangeable for the brand and, by defacto, the simplest to produce. The hardest challenge for the team, Handy said, is coming up with something palatable for both players and fans with Jamaica’s penchant for ingenuity.

“There are so many people having an expectation of what a Jamaica kit could be and trying to find the best way to do that and be progressive, but also make it beautiful and wearable at the same time. I think that’s one of the harder ones, and I think we did it quite well this time now,” he asserts.

With supporters expected to brag about having the best looks on the pitch, does that add some extra pressure to continuously elevate knowing you’ll be met with differing opinions? Handy maintains that you kind of have to ignore the pressure or outside noise in this profession.

“The trick is to not think about that too much and just let the creativity out,” he says. “I think if we spend too much time thinking about the reaction, it makes it very hard. If you look at Germany’s jersey, we pushed ourselves to do something progressive which we’ve not done before with a pink and purple kit.

“It’s quite a provocative thing to do, and if we’d have anticipated how people would react, we wouldn’t have done it, to be honest. But we took the risk, people have fallen in love with it, and it’s one of the best-selling away kits we’ve ever made.”

From Head to Toe

Handy not only has a knack for creating exceptional jerseys but he’s also revered for crafting some of the best-looking cleats in football. Footy fans know the sheer popularity of the Adidas Predator boots, worn by some of the best athletes in the world like Jude Bellingham, André Onana, and Gabriel Jesus, but also made popular decades ago by the likes of Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham.

But don’t ignore the silhouette of the F50, which he was busy promoting ahead of Copa. Leo Messi, perhaps the sport’s most famous athlete, is an avid F50 fan, and Handy teased that we’ll see a Messi version of the F50, which the GOAT himself will don either during the tournament or once Copa América wraps.

(Image courtesy of Adidas)

In the lead-up to this drop, Handy and his team “brought a hell of a lot of Messi’s feedback,” and hopefully, his influence in ushering in a growing fanbase of soccer fans in the United States continues to strengthen Adidas’ brand identity.

“I think Adidas and football are so connected and it’s so part of our DNA, you can’t really separate the two. Seeing the huge growth in popularity around soccer in North America, we’ve been delighted by how the US has fallen in love with Messi since he’s come to Miami. And obviously selfishly speaking, more football in North America means more Adidas in North America because we’re so connected to the sport.”

On the women’s side, there’s another Adidas athlete who is slowly etching her name in the history of US soccer. Trinity Rodman played a crucial role in the development of the F50 Women’s Elite, the company’s first cleat designed specifically for a woman’s foot. It features the same lightweight upper in the laced and laceless models, but an added Primeknit collar provides extra stability and support for the ankle — key for quick turns and pivots. 

Handy briefly explained some of the mechanics, which were three years in the making in this case.

“We start the first conversations of what did and did not like about the old model. We also scan all of our players’ feet, so we have a really good 3D picture of the foot shape and that helps us find the best middle points. It’s really been redeveloped around building the best possible fit for a speed boot that we could have.”

Rodman, who is in her third season with the Washington Spirit, will undoubtedly lace these up next month when she leads the attack as a member of the USWNT at the upcoming Olympics.

Whether it’s in Paris, Washington DC, or Copa América, kits or cleats, one thing is for certain — Adidas and Handy have their fingerprints all over the soccer scene.

Read More:

Vinciane Ngomsi

Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.

About The Author
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.