Why Adidas Took the Stripes Off Its Most Legendary Soccer Cleat

Adidas unveiled its COPA19 boot in Milan, Italy, and it doesn't have stripes on the lateral side.

Adidas COPA19

Image via Adidas

Adidas COPA19

It’s a rainy November day in Milan, Italy, and more than five different languages are being spoken in an undisclosed location at an international event to unveil the newest version of Adidas’ most legendary football boot, the COPA19.

It’s a first for Adidas in a few ways. Not only is it a laceless kangaroo leather boot, which is wrapped in Fusionskin to make it not absorb water, but it’s also missing a key component for any piece of Adidas footwear: The Three Stripes on the later side of the upper.

If you look at the boot, at first glance it’s hard to tell it’s an Adidas, much less a descendent of the Copa Mundial, the black-and-white boot with an elongated tongue from 1982 that’s still made to this day in (West) Germany.

It comes in a pearl colorway with bright red accents on an upper that’s reminiscent of a pillow and feels just as soft on foot. The drastic design language was even confusing to Juventus star forward Paulo Dybala when he first saw it. “I was in shock,” he says. “But when they explained the reason to me, I thought it was smart and I understood it.”

Adidas COPA19 1

The boot’s designer, Arnau Sanjuan, admits that he got some blowback internally when he decided to not put stripes on the outside of the upper. “It was a controversial movement, but I would say but at the end everyone believed it was the right thing to do,” he says. “To be that disruptive with the Copa.”

The decision to leave the Stripes off the most visible portion of the shoe was made to complement the lines that wrap around the whole boot. If you look closely, it appears that are already Stripes in the design and placing more on top of them would be too much, according to Sanjuan. “The first prototypes, we were playing with the Stripes on the lateral and medial in different positions,” he says. “But we have all these lines going all the way around the shoe. We felt that it was so beautiful, and we want to get more disruptive and only put the stripes on the medial side.”

Since relaunching the Copa line in 2017, Adidas has made futuristic versions of the cherished football boot. This year’s version is trying to take it back to the original energy of the Copa Mundial, for an audience that may have never worn the original boot. “The biggest challenge was after we did COPA17 and COPA18, we knew we made to do something that was not super modern, but not super classic,” says Sanjuan. “We took some cues from the original Copa Mundial. We have this quilting on the bottom of the upper with the stitching, but then what we wanted to do was to amplify this kind of design and iconic element from the O.G. Copa, but bringing it to the whole shoe.”

The COPA19 figures to be one of Adidas’ premier boots this season with a $275 price tag and Dybala, who’s come into his own with Juventus and Argentina, as the face of the line. Time will tell if the consumers latch onto the new direction for Copa, as Sanjuan puts it, “It's super difficult, because people have a lot of kind of attachment to the models that we have done in the past, but when you always have the past from Copa Mundial, it’s more tricky.”