Can APL Take On Nike And Adidas?

Can APL Take On Nike And Adidas?

When it comes to athletic megabrands like Adidas and Nike, their commanding logos are probably the first thing many think of.

But for sneaker upstart Athletic Propulsion Lab (APL), opting to be logo free, is an aesthetic they’re after.

And Ryan and Adam Goldston, twin founders, based out of California, are looking to compete with the giants.

Seven years ago, APL’s business plan served as Ryan’s grad thesis at the University of Southern California.

Since then, APL has become a player in performance sneakers, as consumers can find APL in at least 300 doors, including Lululemon.

And since the start of a dedicated women’s collection in 2014, APL notes that women’s business makes up 65 percent of APL’s sales.

Adam tells BoF:

“We have always felt that consumers, whether male or female, were craving products that didn’t feature big emblazoned logos.”

Adam also notes:

“Instead, we let the materials, colors, technology, and design tell the story.”

While Ryan notes:

“We don’t just shrink it and pink it.”

And while APL does offer up a blush pink colorway in their collection of sneakers, it’s for both men and women.

APL also offers unisex knits, which include:

  • glow-in-the-dark
  • animal print calf-hair
  • woven metallics
  • cashmere

Majority of the APL line can range anywhere from $140 – $160 for core performance styles, which are made in China.

For Italian-crafted quilted-leather lifestyle sneakers, consumers can expect retail prices to start at $495.

APL also recently launched a crocodile skin high-top featuring 24 karat gold, called Lusso. The retail price of these shoes? Try $20,000.

And the Goldston twins notes that the brand has had customers purchase multiple pairs.

APL also offers sports apparel, due to the fact that it was something their customers kept asking for.

But Ryan does note that it is, however, just a small component of their business.

And with APL’s uncommon aesthetic, comes an unconventional retail approach.

The brand decided to bypass key sports retailers, like Foot Locker and opted for high-end department stores like as Selfridges and Bergdorf Goodman. 

APL also reached out to high-end e-commerce websites like Net-a-Porter and concept shops like Intermix.

BoF notes that majority of APL’s sales are made from both performance and active-casual trainers which retail for just under $200.

And with the strategy of being placed next to higher marked items like a pair of $900 embellished Gucci sneakers, customers find it easier to add-on a pair of APL’s at checkout.

Here’s a timeline of some major APL accomplishments: 

2015 – APL goes into business with Net-a-Porter.

2016 – APL is featured on the cover of Oprah’s Favorite Things issue.

2017 –  Lululemon sells APL’s knitted TechLoom Phantom and Ascend.

And with the partnership, Celeste Burgoyne, executive vice president of retail, Americas, for Lululemon, notes:

“Our partnership with APL has enabled us to offer a one-stop shop to complete an outfit.”

And also notes:

“[They] share our brand values of providing a quality technical product.”

Can APL Take On Nike And Adidas?

At the moment, the Goldstons are the company’s sole owners.

And while they did not disclose financials, the founders did note that revenue has tripled year-over-year since the introduction of women’s shoes.

Prior to their success, the twins studied at the University of Southern California, both playing basketball and football.

However, with height playing as a disadvantage for the twins (standing under six feet tall), they took time to develop their patented Load ‘N Launch technology.

The Load ‘N Launch tech stood as a compression spring-based system that sat in the forefront cavity of the shoe, which then allowed the shoe wearer, to jump higher.

Ryan notes:

“The best way to think of the technology is like a diving board.”

The twins took their tech and launched direct-to-consumer with the $300 Concept 1 basketball shoe.

They were then banned by the NBA, who cited the sneaker’s “undue competitive advantage.”

The Goldstons, this was the ultimate endorsement.

In addition to that, the twins had a close relationship with the Kardashian/Jenner family.

Kris Jenner tells BoF:

“I have known Ryan and Adam since they were in grade school. They were tremendous athletes, students and the best friends to my son, Rob.”

Kim Kardashian West is noted as the first celebrity to be photographed in APL, following Kendall, Kylie, Khloe, and Kourtney.

With the tremendous growth of APL, the Goldstons have been named on the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and has been asked to speak at the Retail and Luxury Goods conference, held at Harvard Business School.

More is yet to come from APL. Stay updated with us here.

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