adidas is expanding its relationship with Kayne West in “the most significant partnership ever created between a non-athlete and an athletic brand.”
As part of the expanded agreement, West will expand his creative collaboration to performance gear—apparel and accessories—as well as sneakers. Much as Nike has done for Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand, adidas will open standalone retail stores stocked only with his signature Yeezy collection.
The Yeezy Boost shoe, originally priced at $350, quickly sold out and turns up on eBay for more than $1,000. The shoe, which has been released in different colorways and variations, all selling out, was named FNAA Shoe of the Year for “unparalleled demand that crashed servers and drove resale value to astronomical heights.”
“These past two years, Adidas and Yeezy have given a glimpse into our future,” West stated in a press release. “This partnership illustrates that anyone with a dream can dream without limitations.”
— adidas (@adidas) June 29, 2016
The German sporting apparel and footwear giant continues to fight Nike for buzz and market share, but West’s controversial statements and actions would be crushed by the swoosh’s morality clauses—giving him even more appeal and street cred with kids.
“Our industry is so ready for disruption, the same signature lines have X player, Y player, Z player, so of course we’re going to have Kanye work with our guys to challenge that,” said adidas CMO Eric Liedtke to the Wall Street Journal.
West added, “I’m not just a musician singing in front of a mic—we are running, jumping, we’re getting hurt. We’re in the same arenas that the ballplayers play in.”
As part of the new arrangement, adidas will separate the Adidas + Kanye West line into its own business unit, with branded store locations and opening dates still TBD.
Upending the status quo, sportswear retailers have begun collaborating with entertainers such as Nike with Kevin Hart and Puma with Rihanna, while adidas has collaborated with Pharrell, Nicki Minaj, Rita Ora, Selena Gomez (for its Neo line) and others.
But none of these celeb deals are on the scale of the adidas Originals partnership with West, who has proven he can create demand with his red-hot Yeezy Boost shoe releases and also bring his in-your-face vision to Fashion Week, and now wants to help reshape the brand’s retail strategy and presence.
“We have masterminds working on e-com [e-commerce], pop-up stores, whatever is the next frontier, whether that’s app-purchasing or something else,” West told the WSJ. “I’m really happy to be in the middle of those conversations. I think I do have some ability to count cards on where things end up.”
Liedtke concurs. “Kanye is a true creator who has the ability to see things others don’t,” he commented in a press release. “With adidas + KANYE WEST we are exploring new territories by opening up the sports world to Kanye’s creativity. This is what adidas has always been about, empowering creators to create the new.”
As Reuters notes, “Although Nike and its Jordan brand still dominate the U.S. footwear market, Adidas sales rose almost two-thirds in May to take a 6 percent share, according to data from market research firm NPD. Nike’s overall share of the U.S. sportswear market rose to 21.1 percent in 2015 from 20.1 percent in 2014, while Under Armour was up at 3.9 percent from 3.5 percent and Adidas rose to 3.4 percent from 3.3 percent, according to Euromonitor data.”
This week Nike gave a lower than expected forecast for future orders, highlighting its struggle to fend off competition from adidas and others, especially on its home turf. Eager to seize the opportunity to grow its US market share, adidas is assigning a dedicated team in the firm’s US headquarters in Portland, Oregon, to work with West on the development of all Yeezy products going forward.
West, of course, can be counted on for disruption on all fronts. He’s also in the news this week for his as new ‘Famous’ music video, which features a host of nude or partially-dressed doppelgangers of celebs such as Taylor Swift in bed with the performer and his wife, Kim Kardashian.
West called it “a comment on fame” and told Vanity Fair his life is “walking performance art.” If adidas (or his wife) have anything to do with it, he’ll continue walking in their co-branded shoes.
This is such a breakthrough! Biggest partnership ever between a non athlete and an athletic brand! I'm so proud! https://t.co/y7RCYWBUgF
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 30, 2016