adidas / November 2022

How adidas Designed Costumes for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Get the inside scoop on how adidas designers helped create bespoke costumes for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

The world of Wakanda returns. For the highly anticipated sequel film, adidas and Marvel Studios have come together to design a series of bespoke costumes for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The collaboration was helmed by costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who won an Oscar for her work on the first movie, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther. Together with a collective of adidas designers and members of adidas School for Experiential Education in Design (S.E.E.D.), the teams brought Carter’s vision to life.
Established in 2020, S.E.E.D. is a two-year immersive educational experience creating more opportunities in the footwear design industry for BIPOC women. Inaugural members Eliya Jackson and Sam Alvarado led the footwear design for the project alongside Cheresse Thornhill-Goldson, the Design Director at S.E.E.D. and longtime industry veteran. Together with adidas innovation designers Emily Jagos, Laura Koivisto, Isabel Hall, Arnau Sanjuan, and Charlie Kirihara, the teams worked their magic to contribute to the film’s bespoke costumes. This marks the first time Marvel Studios has worked with a sportswear company in such a way. 
With action-packed fight sequences, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever asks a lot physically from the cast so the costumes must not only look amazing, but also be truly functional for each character’s movements. The design teams produced seven unique costumes for the film made up of both apparel and footwear for characters Shuri, Okoye, and Riri. For the collection of costumes, adidas built upon its most advanced technologies, such as Primeknit, Techfit, 4D, Power Tooling, and much more to produce the unique and pioneering looks, created with an ethos of form and function in equal measure.
Here’s an inside look with the adidas design team on what it was like to costume design for one of the largest movie franchises in the world and bring Wakanda to life on the silver screen.

What was the process like collaborating between adidas and Marvel to design the character costumes for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?

Ruth E. Carter | Marvel Costume Designer: “adidas has been a part of hip hop and black culture and fashion since the 80s. To work with the adidas design team to bring our visions to life for the Wakanda Forever costumes was an exciting and wonderful collaboration. I was invited to experience some of adidas’ most futuristic technologies and given the opportunity to decide which innovations we would use within the outfits that would best reflect the environments of Wakanda. Myself and the Marvel team had a clear idea on what we wanted to achieve before we started working on the costumes for the film. Together, with adidas, our ideas were able to evolve in imaginative ways until we ended up with the inspired breathtaking outfits that you can see throughout the film.”
Emily Jagos | adidas Apparel Design Director: “Our partnership with Ruth and team was vital in understanding who we were designing for. It was really helpful to go back to the first film to absorb the absolute richness of the original costumes. The depth, the detail and artistry provided so much inspiration. Looking at how to bring equal excitement to the pieces we were able to create for Wakanda Forever, we met with the Marvel costume design team to understand the characters’ motivations, their sense of style, their personalities. Ruth was very exacting in her creative direction and gave great feedback which we were able to roll with.”

What do you want these bespoke costumes to be known for?

Cheresse Thornhill-Goldson | S.E.E.D. Design Director: “This entire collection exhibits the 'Power of the Collective Genius: S.E.E.D., adidas Innovation, Ruth Carter & Marvel’. This collection is so impactful because of the diversity of the players on each team and the unique perspectives, skill sets and talents each member brought to the collective. Each teammate from design, color and materials to manufacturing and supply chain played a critical role in bringing the products to life. It was truly a beautiful experience, and the product is an amazing testament to the power of the collective.” 
Emily Jagos | adidas Apparel Design Director: “We want our work on these costumes and footwear to be remembered for their inventive take on functional innovation, and how they help tell the story of each scene they feature in. The most unique thing about these pieces are their connection to sport and performance; the women wearing them in the film play such powerful characters, and the connection between their outfits and performance innovations with the brand is really special. Every piece in the collection was designed by a group of female and BIPOC designers, so there has been an incredible feminine force behind the design and production of the costumes, which underlines our own power and potential as creatives.
Eliya Jackson | Former S.E.E.D. student, current adidas Assistant Footwear Designer: “I want this collection to be known for its inventive take on functional innovation, and how it helps story tell the wider message of each scene. For also representing and nodding to the significance and representation of African culture, Afrofuturism, and its future possibilities.” 
Sam Alvarado | Former S.E.E.D. student, current adidas Assistant Color Designer: “My goal is for this collection to be known for the depth of storytelling which transitions in every piece, all signifying the tone and energy the characters are going through during each stage of the journey. The attention to character development with everything down to the color, materials, and construction of the clothes is so powerful and unique. It just adds to the layers of depth.”

What was the inspiration for each character’s look?

Eliya Jackson | Former S.E.E.D. student, current adidas Assistant Footwear Designer: “Whollistically, the body of footwear looks are meant to feel self-transformative throughout the film, as it’s inspired by the characters’ relationship to advanced technology and its capabilities. Individually, each footwear look is inspired by a futuristic design aesthetic but is created to complete a head-to-toe look that represents key moments and themes throughout the film.”
Sam Alvarado | Former S.E.E.D. student, current adidas Assistant Color Designer: “For the look I designed, it took place in the beginning of the movie while Shuri was mourning. We focused on how vulnerable she was and wanted to show that through her clothes by working with transparent materials and placing them in locations such as her back and her heart. Something that many people in similar states of mind could relate to. It was an honor to get to work on this project and relay such emotions through design.”
Emily Jagos | adidas Apparel Design Director: “Each character has their own unique vibe: Shuri has this amazing modern sense of sportiness, whilst Okoye has more of a powerful vibe. With such clear character development, we were able to really hone in on what they’d wear for key scenes, and how to bring it to life in a dynamic, compelling and adi-centric way for the camera.”

What was the biggest lesson in working in costume design compared to adidas product design?

Sam Alvarado | Former S.E.E.D. student, current adidas Assistant Color Designer: “My experience working on this project was extra unique, I had been asked to jump on late to help design and only had about a week to design and then tech pack. It was my first time officially designing apparel, so it was exciting and terrifying, but I would never turn down this opportunity. I think my biggest lesson is the power of 'YES’, and the willingness to learn quickly. The moral of the story is that you can do anything you set your mind to just be open to learning and failing repeatedly, but never let anything hold you back from achieving the impossible’.” 
Eliya Jackson | Former S.E.E.D. student, current adidas Assistant Footwear Designer: "Designing for Marvel and adidas on this once in a lifetime project was a very special experience. Getting to tap into a project that focuses on product design through a cinematic lens and understanding that the product will be interpreted in a bigger and more magical way on screen was incredibly inspiring and exciting. The project has pushed me as a product and footwear designer to think about product creatively, with no restraints; and to imagine big. I know the designs will play into the bigger impact the movie has on my culture and the millions of people of color around the world who watch it, which to me is the most special thing.” 

Wakanda Forever

The costumes will feature in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, releasing in theaters on November 11, 2022. Celebrate the release of Marvel Studios Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with our adidas Wakanda Forever Collection. It s inspired by Wakandan patterns and designed to represent all those who embody their values. Available only at adidas.
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adidas / November 2022