MCKL/Zipeng Zhu.

Name: Adineue Chop
Designer: Jeremy Mickel and Leon Imas
Foundry: MCKL
Release Date: Summer 2018

Back story: Adidas’ history is intertwined with design. When Adolf Adi Dassler founded the company in 1924, he did so a couple hours south of Weimar, Germany, where a new approach to modernist design was taking hold. Though Adidas didn’t have a formal connection to the Bauhaus, the school’s influence reached the company nonetheless in the form of a utilitarian, mono-weighted wordmark that sat beneath the brand’s first logo, the three-leafed trefoil.

More than 90 years later, Adidas is still embracing its inner German pragmatism with Adineue Chop, an octagonal typeface that the company has started rolling out across retail, online, and events. Chop was born out of a long collaboration between the Los Angeles-based type foundry, MCKL, and Leon Imas, Adidas’ senior director of identity. Back in 2012, Imas commissioned MCKL’s founder, Jeremy Mickel, to help them develop a range of weights and styles for Adineue, the company’s curvy sans serif brand font based on the soft geometries of the original Adidas wordmark.

The resulting typeface, Adineue Pro, has little to do with Chop stylistically speaking. Where Adineue is round, Chop is angled. Where it’s soft, Chop is hard. However, both are Adidas’ entry into the wild world of variable fonts.

Why is it called Chop? According to Mickel, Chop is named for the font’s sliced diagonals. Where most octagonal typefaces have knife-sharp edges, Chop’s diagonals are—you guessed it—chopped. Instead of allowing those diagonals to reach all the way to the baseline or the cap height, we trim them and that results in a lower contrast design, Mickel explains.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Imas describes Chop as undeniably sport. And indeed, the typeface, which can shrink and stretch to fit any space, is exceedingly simple with straight lines and clean angles that harken back to the lettering and numbers on old sports jerseys. To make the typeface read as balanced, MCKL thinned out the horizontal strokes, which the human eye naturally perceives as thicker than vertical strokes. The result is a typeface that appears mono-weighted even at is most stretched point.

Like its name suggests, Chop is based around soft corners. The team softened the 45 degree angles, which gives the typeface a warmth that other octagonal fonts can lack. “It’s not something you notice at small sizes, but it creates a lot of visual interest in the larger sizes—like when you’re putting it on the side of a stadium, Imas says.

Though Mickel says the typeface has German engineering elements to it, it’s really meant to be a more humanistic take on what can often read as a stark, utilitarian style. Jeremy and I had long conversations over the years about humanistic details and the idiosyncrasies that we wanted to kind of bake in,” Imas explains. So even though we started with beautiful German engineering, it was like, what can we do to make this feel more us?’ Let’s not let it sit underneath the bowl. Let’s let the leg slip all the way back into the stem. It’s the little moments that add up altogether to give it a personality.

Adidas/MCKL

What should I use it for? Adidas has mostly used Chop in retail, though you’ll start seeing it online and in marketing campaigns. It’s meant to evoke a timeless sportiness—more local high school football than billion dollar stadium, according to Imas. I love the fact that it looks familiar from afar, he says. Though it’s a proprietary, you can use similar fonts like House Industries’ United to capture a similarly militaristic vibe.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Adidas pairs Chop with Adineue Pro. Chop’s hard angles and classic proportions contrast nicely with a wide and cleanly curved sans serif. For non-proprietary fonts, Imas and Mickel suggest pairing it with a neutral sans serif like Fort or a serif like Shift.