When it comes to creating classic athletic footwear, Nike is undoubtedly the name I vividly remember as the “go-to” brand while growing up. The iconic swoosh on the box has been a symbol of “Victory” for centuries; and is what we felt and have been programmed to feel each time we laced up a pair. How was that achieved you may ask?, entirely through advertisements and incredibly great marketing. Another brand slowly but surely becoming a power house, as well as redefining the style and influence of footwear as we speak, is adidas. 2014 has already been a monumental year. After announcing a partnership with Nigo, Kanye West and Pharell Williams, the brand has stepped outside the sneaker box, collaborating with creative minds, re-inventing its brand influence. Besides focusing on performance, they have also done a great job of re-organizing priorities, and placing emphasis on aesthetics and style. From a consumer stand point, I want to dissect a few good strides that adidas as a company have made that are creating waves in fashion, culture and design.
More than performance
Growing up in the late 80’s, the biggest selling point for selling a sneaker was stressing what the sneaker could do to enhance your sporting experience. I mean let’s face it, watching Michael Jordan in movies like Space Jam and his commercials really did convince you that you could “Be Like Mike”. True as that may be, we as consumers didn’t always get the same result. The marketing behind the Air Pippins, the Lil Penny Foamposites and Air Jordan 1, were great Nike Flagships because each shoe showcased how they could enhance your game, and the players who wore them were a true testament to that notion. However, in this day and age, what a shoe can do for you might not be the biggest or only selling point that it used to be.
Consumers aren’t buying shoes so they can ball like Lebron; instead, they are looking for shoes to style like him. One of the first companies to really realize this and capitalize on it was Reebok. With the help of Steve Stoute, Jay-z released the S.Dot Carters back in 2003 with much success, largely due to Stoute and the people at Reebok recognized a target audience most companies simply overlooked. That demographic didn’t want sneakers to play ball in, make them jump higher, or even increase their speed; they just wanted sneakers that looked good — that’s it. The collaboration between RBK and Shawn Carter opened up doors for other rappers including 50 Cent and more successfully, Kanye West with Adidas, who has taken footwear to a higher level and focused solely on the design.
Although the collaboration between the two somewhat ignores the sports/athletic quality of sneakers, the bottom line is it was never intended to be traditional in any way. Another great example of how adidas has cornered the market for fashion forward footwear is their partnership with Jeremy Scott. While his model does absolutely nothing to enhance your physical skills, it does everything to transform your style. By focusing on creating great stylish sneakers, especially with the new Yeezy Boost 750, the most hyped shoe that will be released from the brand this year, it’s one stripe Adidas is looking to earn. And by focusing on a demographic that solely want stylish sneakers, adidas is on the right track.
Staying in Tune with the culture.
One thing adidas has done exceptionally well overall, is [highlight]staying in-tune with culture[/highlight], which is clearly evident from the mid-80’s when Run DMC had everyone in Queens wearing the infamous stripes on their feet. Adidas has always capitalized by investing in culture; especially in hip-hop. And because it is one of the most influential cultures in today’s society, having your brand connected to an iconic artist such as Pharrell Williams, is simply great marketing. Moreover, as time passes, the the brand and artist become synonymous with one-another. Every time that artist has a #1 song, releases a video, or post’s an Instagram message of his life wearing the three stripes, adidas is represented with that artist through their lifestyle. And the more that consumers see it, more often than not, they’ll want it. With adidas being one of the first brands to really invest in hip-hop and seeing the connection, this marketing campaign has really worked in their favor. Not so much with Reebok who actually dropped and disowned a highly successful sponsorship — sorry Rick Ross.
Bigger then Collaborations
So even if you’re lucky to have a Kanye West, Big Sean or Pharrell representing your brand, you still have to have a well designed product, right?. Thankfully, with the likes of Nigo joining the thier roster, that’s certainly not a problem adidas is concerned with. After Nike lost three of its own designers only to join adidas, it only adds more fuel to the fire. And with Nigo being such an iconic figure in both streetwear and fashion, the impact to competing brands is undeniable.
Since Nigo just so happened to be a huge fan of adidas, mentioning years ago that he dreamed of collaborating with the brand, it’s certainly no surprise the two finally joined forces. In fact, Nigo was the first to join the brand before Kanye or Pharrell, and wasted no time getting to work. Not to discredit Nike, they’ve also had their fair share of successful collaborations with influential designers, including Riccardo Tisci, the creative director at Givenchy, and Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenço, who worked on designs for Nike apparel.
However, adidas has not only teamed up with a renowned designer, but have actually hired one to be a part of the brand. Having an influential designer with a background in product design really does make a difference, especially when it comes to affordable prices. For instance, even if young consumers can’t financially afford a piece from Bape (even though Nigo is no longer a part of the brand), at-least they can afford a pair of adidas that he designed and still have a connection with Bape, which is really the beauty behind the collaboration itself. Working with brands that can create pieces that consumers can afford while still making them exclusive and unique, is something we all can look forward to from adidas.
Though we’re only in the 1st quarter of the year, we think it’s safe to say Adidas brought in 2015 with a bang. With Pharrell releasing a pack in early spring, Yeezy Season Part II dropping soon, and more collaborations with Nigo as well, Adidas is bringing the heat back into sneaker culture and giving Nike a run for its money. Competition is always healthy and great for consumers because it forces the brands go out of their comfort zone, and in that case, we’re all winners as consumers. How long will the dominant reign of Adidas last? We’ll have to wait and see; but for now, the future is looking brighter than ever.