Share the love
Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Jeremy Scott, Mark McNairy, Kazuki Kuraishi, Stella McCartney, Yohji Yamamoto, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim from Opening Ceremony/Kenzo… This never-ending list is not the next Fashion Week schedule but the list of designers who collaborate with Adidas. The Adidas roster which now also includes the designer Tom Dixon and Kanye West, will probably welcome Pharrell Williams as well, who has almost confirmed the rumor by wearing a red Adidas Track Jacket during the last Grammy Awards. Thus, Adidas which has just stolen Kanye West from Nike, acts unlike his famous rival by accumulating partnerships. These collaborations are not fleeting as well as they are not only related to a specific product. In this way, for most of them, they have become side product-lines developed through several years.
At the first sight, these collaborations seem to be a brilliant idea. Indeed, the fashion world keen on Hypebeast or HighSnobiety loves the announcements such as a top-designer like Raf Simons who teams up with Adidas. Thus, this kind of collaboration generates an immediate buzz. Nevertheless, in order for a partnership to be convincing, it is above all a matter of mutual passion and universes. For instance, even if the Kanye West recruitment looks like great news for Adidas, but currently Kanye West particularly matched Nike in people’s mind thanks to the most innovative and striking sneakers launches. Whereas Nike and Kanye West collaborated sporadically on a single product and distributed theirs sneakers only in a few selected retailers that created huge expectations for sneakerheads, Adidas x Kanye West, according to both of them, would be a larger collaboration on a range of unlimited products like Adidas x Opening Ceremony or Adidas x Jeremy Scott. Furthermore, at least regarding their impact on US mainstream culture, Nike and West seem to share more than the American artist and the German brand.
That is why except if they are concealing an amazing launch, a new innovative technology or a groundbreaker design, the coming collaborations between Adidas and West or Pharrell would be not relevant. Even if at the time these side lines are quite commercially successful, because of the proliferation of collaborations (and I will not tackle subjects such as one-shot partnerships with retailers like WoodWood or brands like Clot, or the integrated lines like Porsche Design or late-SLVR), because of the choice of retailers as well as the lack of coherency in the choice of designers, these partnerships do not look “honest”.
The trendsetters do not any longer rush for Y-3 and they have never done it for Adidas x Opening Ceremony (editor note: except for VQ who recently bought a fluo leopard tee from them). For a brand, the choice of the right interpreter may be difficult. It could be an artist (Adidas x Lee Quinones), a fashion designer (Adidas x Raf Simons), a sportsman (Nike x Jordan), an architect (Melissa x Zaha Hadid), or a designer (Puma x Starck)… However, the success of a collaboration does not only rely on the fame of the interpreter, no more than in the product itself. For instance, the designer Michael Graves teamed up with Alessi and then with Target. He created almost the same kettles. Nevertheless, they sold much more Alessi one than Target one while the Alessi kettle was much more expensive. Indeed, the partnership between Alessi and Graves was approved by Alessi customers as well as Graves lovers while Graves lovers was not interested in Target and Target customers did not care about Graves.
About this point, Nike used to act in an opposite way. Nike does not complete a lot of partnerships and the collaborations are temporary and limited. Of course, Nike teams up with Jordan on a wide range but nowadays, the Jordan brand image is quite separated from the Nike brand image and the Jumpman logo is almost as famous as the Swoosh logo. Nike is collaborating with Riccardo Tisci but only on a product that linked them through basket-ball: the Air Force One. Finally, Nike x Undercover is the only collaboration which is not limited both in time and range, however this line is related to SPORT. Whereas Dior and Chanel have created Haute-Couture sneakers for the last Haute-Couture week, Adidas creates sport products only with Stella McCartney. Adidas continues to believe in the so 00’s “retro” field: for Adidas, the most important launch of the year must be the Stan Smith come-back. Adidas does not believe in sport while it supports more athletes in more sports. Adidas creates more technologies than Nike but not the dream ones: Air vs. Adiprene, Flyknit vs. Primeknit, Lunarlon vs. Boost,… More than an umpteenth Adidas Forum customized by Jeremy Scott, we would prefer an uncrowded roster and a back to innovation and creation which it may be heralded by the Adidas x Rick Owens Tech Runner.
Less is more… The « Interpreter » concept is taken from « Design Driven Innovation » (Roberto Verganti, Harvard Business Press).