Nike and Adidas are global household names when it comes to athleisure and sportswear, especially for sports shoes and sneakers. Both brands hold a strong recall value in the market which is a direct reflection of their all-encompassing- people focused marketing tactics. These marketing strategies are culturally rooted, street style focused, celebration of music and entertainment industry focused pointers that encourage a healthy lifestyle and bring to limelight the local artists, athletes, and everyday people.
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Both sports and athleisure brands are known to enter partnerships with designers, iconic luxury brands and celebrities over the past few years to produce some exclusive content, limited edition collections, capsule lines and a new line of products for the athleisure market. These curated strategic partnerships for both Nike and Adidas is what has taken them from the high streets to the iconic luxury houses and art galleries. Nike and Adidas have been able to carve a new market space for themselves with three aspects over the past few years:
1. Designer partnerships
2. Luxury fashion house partnerships
3. Digital retail: NFT art
Did you know a pair of shoes by Adidas x Prada retailed for INR 1,00,000 and above, while a Nike x LV shoe costs over INR 2,00,000?
While many experts think that the logic behind these partnerships with luxury houses such as Gucci, LV, Prada and others is more about raising sports brands’ fashionability and earning easy entry points into the luxury fashion marketplace, there is another side of the coin. The cultural identity Nike and Adidas have built, has also led the luxury brands to grasp the attention of a different market segment and offer them something up their alley, in simpler words, products that resonate more with their unique personalities and style.
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While the brand is known for its curated partnerships, entering luxury has been a new affair. Brain Grevy, Adidas executive board member responsible for global brands, mentioned in an interview in March 2021 that the brand’s strategy towards luxury collaboration is to build luxury designs that are ‘’inspired by Adidas and worn for status’’.
Stella McCartney x Adidas
The well-known fashion house of Stella McCartney partnered with the athletic giant Adidas to create a fashion-forward collection of Adidas originals which has been one of their most iconic and long-standing collaborations that have been existing for over ten years. The classic Adidas three stripes with Stella print designs for athletic wear, athleisure wear, and footwear have its own loyal global customer base.
What helped Adidas get on the global map was its foundational independent designers, artists, and creative collaborations worldwide. This included decade-long partnerships with Stella McCartney, and others like Raf Simons and Yohji Yamamoto.
Walking the ramp: 2022
Both Gucci and Balenciaga are the world’s biggest luxury houses and share a parent company in Kering SA, and now they both also share the three stripes.
Gucci x Adidas
Gucci was the first among the two luxury houses to launch their collaboration with the German athleisure wear empire, Adidas. The showcase presented a co-branded collection of double-breasted suits, and fur-trimmed tweed coats in the Adidas’ iconic three stripes logo above the Gucci name.
Jackets start from $3,900 to platform sandals for $1250.
Balenciaga x Adidas
Balenciaga, soon after Gucci’s launch, presented its runway show that showcased the collaboration with Adidas. This show was a dark and dense affair with GMP-masked models marching down the New York Stock Exchange floor. Balenciaga and Adidas collections saw a more conventional athletic approach of twin-logoed tracksuits, and soccer jerseys – capturing the essence of both brands – luxury with high quality and design along with street elements that encapsulate the pop culture.
Their track pants cost $1,550 and their sneakers around $1,100.
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Nike has proven to be a global leader in sportswear and the celebration of sports at all levels. Be it basketball, tennis to football, the brand uses innovative methods and disruptive design to offer the best of comfort, support, and performance in their footwear.
Nike x Louis Vuitton
LV recently hosted a show in Brooklyn that exhibited its collaboration with Nike. One of the rare and final acts of Virgil Abloh. This collaboration of Nike Air Force 1’s (LV manufactured that) were the highlight of the show – all 47 of them.
The Nike swoosh and LVs logo became one iconic symbol.
These sneakers start at $2750.
Nike x Dior
Another iconic partnership for the books is Nike x Dior. Dior launched an Air Jordan collaboration with Nike that was instantaneously sold out and, to this date is one of the most in-demand shoes on the sneaker resale market circuit. The collection was coined ‘Air Dior’.
When the first-ever signature collection of sneakers by the world’s most celebrated basket player- Michael Jordan, partners with a couture house like Dior, the drop at the Pre-fall 2020 runway show raised temperatures across the globe. Building a feverish high among sneakerheads, these Jordan x Dior masterpieces were entirely made in Italy. And had the upsized scale of The Nike Swoosh in Dior Oblique jacquard. One of the resale platforms, StockX, saw a pair of Air Dior sneakers re-sell for an estimated $7,700.
The digital world: NFTs
While Adidas and Nike have launched their NFT platforms, Adidas’ Original collaboration with Prada for an NFT venture has been the talk of the luxury town.
The Adidas for Prada Re-Nylon collection – in the metaverse was announced in early 2022 and is an ambitious one of its kind NFT collaboration that will feature user-generated and creator-owned art. Adidas originals and Prada will leverage NFTs and the new Web3 technology to help them reward participation in their new collaboration that entails open innovation and encourages original ownership, authenticity, and community. In Adidas’s own words, this partnership is –” Relentlessly innovative; undeniably community-driven. The Adidas for Prada re-source project confidently marks both brands’ latest collaborative journey into the metaverse.”
As a business in retail, one can learn a great deal from Nike and Adidas. Today these brands are worn by young children in school playgrounds, football and other athlete superstars, and pedigreed investment and hedge fund managers. These brands further managed to build their niche in the luxury sector with carefully curated partnerships. They have maintained elegance and comfort with all their collections and collaborations over the years.
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While collaborations are not a new concept, neither are luxury sports-based collaborations. However, these recent partnerships have highlighted a different attitude of brands and the industry. Luxury is building capsules that empower their brands to a new height, and high street brands are using these collaborations to explore their own design identity. The DNA is intertwined, and each brand in these collaborations is offering to become a tool for achieving success together rather than providing a big novelty.