Behind the Mask: The Making of adidas Face Covers


Performance sportswear relies on innovation to stretch the possibilities of what athletes can achieve.

That stretch of imagination is the core focus of the Advanced Concepts team. A specialized team of expert footwear and apparel designers, marketers, developers and sport-scientists working together to catalyze the application of future-forward technologies to be used 2-4 years out.

But in the face of a global pandemic, years quickly became weeks.

In a six-week sprint under completely new conditions, the Advanced Concepts team made much needed Face Covers a reality. This is the story of how they made it all happen as told by Creative Director Marc Dolce and Design Director Ashley Anson.

As soon as the COVID-19 situation began to escalate and scientific and public health groups in many countries started recommending some form of face covering, we felt there was a need for a comfortable and reusable cover as people returned to their communities.

We immediately started sketching, making and prototyping, all from home. The entire process from ideation to production was less than one month, becoming one of the most rapidly produced products we’ve ever made.

We then developed a rapid prototyping and production process together with our factory development team, who were able to create mock-ups overnight, the material selection sessions were held virtually, with team family members helped out with initial fittings.  

We’re fortunate to have teams across every continent and in almost every major city, so we were able to structure the project team in a way where when one person finished their day, they could pass the baton to someone else, who was able to pick up where they left off and keep things moving.   

This was all done in collaboration across all of our brands: adidas and Reebok. Showing us that we can all work together very quickly and efficiently, and that we can see every obstacle as an opportunity. 

For Face Covers, we’re currently exploring what a next generation could look like and how it should function. We’re looking into a focus on sport and performance to help keep the athlete protected and comfortable during physical activity.

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