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Since splitting with Nike, artist Kanye West has embarked on a lucrative relationship with apparel company Adidas. Selling out of both Yeezy Boost 750 and Boost 350, West’s fruitful partnership with the three-stripe brand has led the company to a 24.2 percent increase in footwear sales. One could say that Kanye has the Midas touch. The Adidas Ultra Boost is now the leading running shoe in America and has surpassed its Nike counterpart. Taking into account the noteworthy gains in profit, it only makes sense that Adidas plans to retain this union by extending their partnership and allowing West to expand his fashion empire into the sports field with new performance-oriented designs.
More than just a music mogul, the Chitown rapper has always been an advocate for fashion. His creative genius and knack for design first came to the mainstream media with the high-profile debut of his Nike Air Yeezy sneakers. The first start-up of West’s fashion empire, the Yeezy was something that the sneaker world had never seen before. The partnership may have not been West’s first collaboration with a global brand, but it was one of his most successful. Selling out of product almost immediately, the three color variations of the Nike Air Yeezy were the sneaker world’s most popular releases.
Following the initial release’s success, West let fans know that he was not done. Dropping hints and alluding that many of the designs from the first release were unused, Nike eventually let it be known that a second release of the prolific sneaker was set to drop in summer of 2012. Branded Nike Air Yeezy 2, the sneaker followed similar colorways of its predecessor with a later, surprise release of an all-red “Red October” release in February 2014. Though first dropping with the retail price of $245, the release gained most of its notoriety for its resale value of up to $4,000. It was clear that the union between artist and shoe company was a match made in retail heaven. Unfortunately, there was some trouble in paradise.
Ending his five-year stint with the global athletic company, West departed on bitter terms and took to the airwaves to continually voice his dissatisfaction with the brand.. He later released a track titled “Facts,” in which he continued to blast the company for their practices and for how he was treated there. Among his claims were that the company treats their employees like slaves, and they pay high-profile celebs like Lebron James and Drake big dividends not to leave.
West’s airing of his sour grapes and slamming Nike in multiple interviews culminated with his decision later to ink a new deal with its competitor, Adidas. The pairing proved fruitful, as the Yeezy Boost 750, Boost 350, and the Yeezy Season 1 clothing line not only immediately sold out nationwide, but also seemed to re-invigorate the brand for a new generation. The Yeezy Boost received critical acclaim and was awarded the “Footwear News” Shoe of the Year in December 2015. In that year alone, Adidas amassed over 78 million likes on its Instagram feed and became one of the world’s most popular athletic brands. Though Nike is still No. 1 in sales, Yeezy has steadily raised Adidas’ stock as well as public interest in its Ultra Boost footwear.
With such growing success, it was a smart business move for the German company to continue their lucrative partnership with the boisterous rapper. With their latest Yeezy and Adidas brand partnership, West will metaphorically become the brand’s Michael Jordan, pushing his designs and ideas throughout the basketball and the football gear market. The deal also ushers in co-branded retail stores that could further expand his fashion empire into a nationwide casual/street-wear brand. Both endeavors represent the hopes of the foreign company to amass more followers in the U.S. market, which it has severely lacked when compared to Nike.
This union of artist and athletic brand is almost unprecedented in the history of sneaker companies and could lead to a billion-dollar profit for West and the expansion of his fashion empire. Although the company has neglected to release the exact sales figures for their Yeezy releases, Adidas’ share of the $1 billion secondary market has jumped from one percent to nearly 30 percent. If sales continue to grow exponentially, it looks like West will have more than enough money to pay off that massive debt he shamelessly claimed to have earlier this year.
By Tyler Cole
Edited by Jennifer Pfalz
Hypetrak: Yeezy is Jumping Over Jumpman: Nike’s Overall Sales are Down, adidas Climbs
The Wall Street Journal: Adidas Bets on Expanded Partnership With Kanye West
Rap-Up: KANYE WEST AND ADIDAS ANNOUNCE LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP
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Inset and Featured Image Courtesy of Vision Invisible’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License