Not surprisingly, this morning’s announcement about Adidas’ expanded partnership with Kanye West has already generated huge buzz.
The new entity, called Adidas + Kanye West, will expand beyond the partners’ current lifestyle focus to include performance, thus “offering options for both sport and street,” the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based company noted on Wednesday. Adidas + Kanye West will also include stand-alone brick-and-mortar stores, although no timeline has been set for a retail debut. Adidas called the new alliance unprecedented and referred to it as “the most significant partnership ever created between a nonathlete and an athletic brand.”
Here are three reasons everyone’s talking about today’s deal.
1. The Yeezy Boost 750 and Yeezy Boost 350 have been red-hot sellouts for FN’s 2015 “King of Shoes” and Adidas. Now the partners want to go far beyond the core styles and delve into performance. There’s no guarantee more sport-driven looks will have the same type of success (or demand) as the lifestyle offering. But both Adidas and West — and the entire Kardashian clan — have deep connections with a host of professional athletes, who could be eager to don a West style on court. After all, the fashion and athletic worlds have never been more closely intertwined, so it could be a good time for West to get into the performance game.
2. After launching successful “Life of Pablo” pop-up shops in New York and Los Angeles, West clearly believes there is opportunity at retail. At a time when many traditional stores are scaling back or closing down, it’s notable that Adidas + Kanye West is betting on brick-and-mortar. The key for the partners will be to expand in a calculated way. Operating a retail store, especially in this climate, is complicated and requires constant oversight.
3. The move, which was announced just a day after Nike reported lackluster earnings, comes as momentum continues for Adidas as a whole. In a new report, Cowen & Co. analyst John Kernan blamed much of Nike’s North America slowdown on the heat surrounding Adidas (and Under Armour). While market watchers have debated just how much West’s affiliation with Adidas is fueling overall growth, there’s no question the star is keeping the brand firmly in the spotlight. The brand is experiencing success with both new and retro styles, including the Ultra Boost and NMD running shoes, and classics such as the Superstar and Stan Smith. A report from Cowen & Co. also predicts that Adidas’ basketball sales will get a boost from the brand’s recent signing of five top athletes. Plus, a new James Harden signature sneaker is in the works for this fall.