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Earlier this week we saw two of the biggest sportswear brands make arguably their most significant signings in recent memory. We’re not talking about established all-star athletes but rather Kanye West and Drake, who each signed with adidas and Jordan Brand respectively. Kanye West’s move to adidas despite surprising was facilitated by his numerous diatribes against Nike and Mark Parker in the last few weeks, but Drake’s signing with Jordan Brand seemingly came out of nowhere. Whether deliberate or not, the timing of such a bold decision is certainly a curious one. The question then is who stands to benefit more?
As the current situation seems, Kanye West’s shift to adidas has already raised the brand’s profile and has many people eagerly anticipating the fruits of this partnership. From a sales standpoint, adidas has the opportunity to capitalize on Kanye West’s creative output in a way that Nike never did. While it’s unlikely West’s line will be as big as say, adidas Originals, it certainly has the potential to fill a niche in the same vein as Y-3 and, until recently, the soon to be defunct adidas SLVR. To that, one can add West’s undeniable influence on style and fashion. His penchant for Nikes and Jordans is well documented, and while it’s impossible to gauge what kind of an effect it has had on sales, it’s hard to deny that seeing Kanye West in the latest Jordans or Nikes make them that little bit more desirable to some. We can only presume that seeing West rocking the latest and greatest from adidas will have a similar effect.
On the other hand, Drake’s potential impact on Jordan Brand is a little unclear. Contemporaries within the music industry, Drake has yet to approach West’s level of influence when it comes to fashion and style. What Jordan Brand intends to do with the star has yet to be seen; the question for them then is how to best capitalize on its newest signee. Will this come in the form of a new model, or will it be a simple case of new colorways? Both options present their issues, as historically, non-original Jordan silhouettes have failed to reach the same heights as the MJ-worn editions, and JB has, in the last few years, been churning out a slew of new colorways for its OG silhouettes. While the former option could present itself as an interesting new direction for the brand, the latter option isn’t terribly innovative. That being said, a lack of innovation hasn’t stopped Jordan retros from selling like hot cakes, and we’re sure that would be the case with Drake.
At the end of the day, there are no simple answers. Looking at it from the outside, one could say that adidas as a brand seems more likely to benefit from the added exposure that comes with being aligned with West. On the flip side, one could argue that this is a win-win for Jordan Brand, as it already has the kind of exposure and brand recognition that most brands would kill for, and adding Drake into the mix will only boost that. From a commercial standpoint, it seems like Kanye West wants to reach more consumers, and if adidas is willing, all the right ingredients are there for a hit. On a personal note, I’m looking forward to seeing what Kanye West does given the bold proclamations he’s made over the last few weeks.
Success can be measured in several ways. It can be a function of increased sales which could be the case of the Drake and Jordan partnership, or it can be seen as the result of a heightened level of brand visibility and identity which Kanye West stands to give adidas. We leave it to you to let us know who stands to benefit more: adidas and Kanye West or Jordan Brand and Drake. Cast your vote now.