Since Kanye West and Adidas teamed up two years ago, West has made headlines with his democratic, if dystopian, Yeezy Season 1, 2, and 3 fashion shows. The first featured clothing co-branded with Adidas, but for the next two seasons only Yeezy's shoes were part of the partnership—while the clothing was all developed and owned by West and his own team.
Now, Adidas is announcing "the cementing" of its relationship with West by launching "adidas + KANYE WEST" (caps theirs). As explained in the press release, "Together with Kanye West, a dedicated Adidas team will lead the development and creation of all Yeezy products." This includes shoes, clothing, and accessories ranging from leisure to sport. The line will be sold in a number of new Adidas stores that will be "distinct hubs" dedicated to the collaboration. These brick-and-mortar locations are part of Adidas’s larger strategy to have a physical presence in cities around the world, and knowing West's interest in architecture and interior design, it'll be interesting to see what the stores themselves are like.
In other words, the Yeezy label is getting into sportswear. And West, assumably, is going at least a bit more corporate—though not entirely so. Adidas's Yeezy line will be developed out of Adidas’s recently expanded Portland studio, rather than Adidas’s Brooklyn hub. For Adidas, West is part of an essential strategy for the German-born brand to find a brash American voice that can cut through the global world of fashion. For West, it seems a powerful ally in the fashion industry is ready to scale his larger-than-life vision for fashion.
However, Adidas still doesn’t actually have full rights over developing Yeezy items. "Kanye West will continue to have namesake Yeezy products and collection items that are designed and developed outside of his work with Adidas, yes," a spokesperson clarifies.
Adidas won’t comment on the pricing of these new products, though going into sportswear, the brand seems to be leveraging West to build an even more premium-priced version of the Jordan brand. Meanwhile, West has the freedom to continue designing high-end merchandise that might not scale for a larger market. If the early success of Adidas’s Yeezy Boost line is in any indication, the partnership has a lot of promise.
But it’s worth noting that despite the hoopla around Adidas’s Yeezy products, the pop culture phenomenon most directly influencing Adidas’s bottom line hasn’t been West; it’s actually Pharrell.