When Nike suggested that 2019 would be its year for women, it wasn't just talk.
One step into its flagship store in New York City made it clear that this campaign was going the full mile - and the effect was overwhelming.
"We want to help create the next wave of growth for women in sport and with a fully dedicated women's offense, we see an even healthier, long-term future for Nike," CEO Mark Parker said in a call with investors in March.
The athletic wear sector is competitive and often unpredictable, but both brands are currently performing well. Nike reported 4% revenue growth in its fourth-quarter earnings in June, but fell slightly short of expectations. In May Adidas also reported a 4% revenue increase in its first quarter-earnings, adjusted for currency.
We visited Nike and Adidas to see for ourselves which store does it better. Our visits made it clear that Nike's focus on women's representation should give it a leg up against its competitors. Adidas, though successful, is still focused on serving up the classics.
First, we visited the Nike flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The focus on women was apparent the moment we walked in. Customers enter the store through what can only be described as a "women hall of fame."
One side looked like a tribute to the US women's national soccer team, which just won the FIFA Women's World Cup.
The main floor of the store was decked out in screens featuring female athletes from different countries.
There were inspirational messages inscribed on the walls next to the pictures of the athletes, part of Nike's “Dream Crazier” campaign.
There were also glass-enclosed women's uniforms from different countries displayed on the walls of the room.
Some were even available for purchase.
The action shots combined with the headshots made the whole room appear like a tribute to female athletics. This main showroom set the tone for the entire store experience to follow.
The center of the store was probably one of the coolest parts. There were mannequins of female athletes that appeared to be caught in action. It felt epic.
Overall, the main showroom was an empowering tribute to women.
Next, we went upstairs. This Nike store had the women's section placed one floor above the main showroom, which was a floor before the men's section.
There was a variety of female athletic wear to browse, from leggings to shoes.
There was also a plus-size selection. This pink sports bra was $75.
Nearby, we stumbled upon the famous plus-size mannequins, which first debuted in London and helped increase the visibility of Nike's plus-size offerings.
We also found this advertisement that featured an athlete in a hijab. Nike introduced the Pro Hijab in 2018.
This flexible mannequin caught our attention and helped us discover a nice selection of yoga attire.
The next floor was the men's section, which was pretty standard.
The top floor was for Nike's Expert Studio, which is designed to give more personal service to members of NikePlus.
We found more women's offerings up here as well.
Overall, Nike delivered on its mission to focus more on women in sports. The store exceeded our expectations for how a women-focused brand could look.
Next, we walked down Fifth Avenue to Adidas' flagship store.
The signs in the window advertised what would be the main theme of the store: a home of the classics.
The main display room felt slightly empty. It featured Adidas' classic Stan Smith shoes in the center.
This classic Adidas shoe and design were featured prominently throughout the main floor.
Most of the mannequins on this floor were dressed in male attire.
And many of them were positioned in active poses.
We did find this interesting art installation of what appeared to be female athletes. But for the most part, the main floor lacked any serious emphasis on women.
We went to find the women's section and stumbled upon this statue of Adi Dassler, Adidas' founder and creator.
We also found this installation about "real-life superheroes" of New York, designed like a comic book.
Upstairs, there was more men's attire.
We consulted the directory and discovered that the women's section was below the main floor, so down we went.
Here, we found a large room full of women's sports attire.
For the most part, the mannequins here were standard, though some of them seemed supremely muscular.
The display here wasn't as inspiring as the one at Nike. Still, we found a large selection of colorful athletic wear.
These Pride shorts ($30) caught our eye.
We also found a large selection of women's shoes ...
... as well as backpacks.
But overall, there was nothing inspiring about the merchandise or advertisements here. Nike encouraged a feeling of intense pride from the moment we walked in — the Adidas experience was not concerned with that.
While Nike brought women to the forefront of its store experience, Adidas was more focused on its classic style. It's worth noting that we visited the stores right after the US women's national soccer team — which is sponsored by Nike — won the FIFA Women's World Cup. But overall, Nike's inspiring display won us over.