Since Disroyal first opened its doors back in the mid-’90s countless talented people have been associated with the company from talented skaters to amazing creative minds like Jürgen Rank. Now he is working with Adidas in a key role on the licensed apparel team.
We took some time to speak with Jürgen about his experiences in skating and what he’s working on at Adidas.
For those who don't know you, can you give us a short introduction?
My name is Jürgen Rank and from 1996–2004 I had the pleasure to work for Powerslide and Disroyal. These were eight exciting and fantastic years as a designer and photographer in a very exciting time for skating.
Disroyal Distribution has returned, but people may not realize the history behind the company. You were involved with Disroyal back in the '90s; can you tell us how you got involved with the company and what it was like back then?
To me, it was really like an adventure. I first started as a photographer and then when the main designer left, it was on me to do this job as well. In the beginning we were mainly importing skate goods from the US, then we started working more and more on our own products.
It was a very straightforward process, Matze had a cool idea and approached me with it to adapt the idea into a real, functional product. We soon had to add more people to the design team to be able to handle all the new product designs. We really did everything–from first product hand sketches to the product development with the factories to the packaging design, catalogues and advertising. Basically, everything from the first sketch to the trade show booth. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun and a lot of lessons learned. The atmosphere amongst the people at Powerslide and Disroyal was always great; it really was an amazing team work with.
From my understanding, you’re not an inline skater yourself. As an outsider looking in, are you surprised that inline skating has made a bit of a comeback?
Mainly I was riding my longboard, but I also played a bit of inline hockey, which was always great fun. I think inline skating, in general, became a real constant sport over the years, but back then I honestly was not sure how long the trend would last. Skating really made it into the hearts of the people and will continue to be an important part of the sports world. There may be some changing waves of interest from time to time (like in skateboarding as well), but it will never disappear.
You're now working for Adidas, which pretty much everyone knows is a massive sporting good and athletic company. How did you first connect with Adidas? What's your role with the company?
My role is to lead the licensed apparel design team, which is responsible for all the football clubs and federations. We do the kits for all teams around the world, like Bayern München, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Mexico etc. It’s a lot of teams and designs.
Since 2004 I’ve the honor and privilege to do this amazing job. Back then Adidas was looking for someone who had a passion for football and a very good sense for design. A head-hunter found me, said I would be the perfect candidate and asked me to apply for the position.
As I always was a football nerd and football shirt nutter, a dream was coming true. Still, it was also tough to leave the amazing group of people at Powerslide and Disroyal. To this day I’m very thankful for all the experiences, the endless design freedom, and the fun we had back then.
Compared to the ‘90s has your approach to design changed? Have advances in technology changed how you design and create?
Of course, there are more digital tools available today, which allows you to get faster from the first idea to the result, but in the end still what counts is the individual creativity, your skillset and most importantly the passion for the things you want to design. In my point of view a good designer can design anything, it doesn’t matter what it is, do it with passion and you will be successful.
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