Written by Matt Welty (@matthewjwelty)
"I want to make product like shoes, and you think about the Yeezys and how people really wanted that. I just signed my deal a week and a half ago, but it took a major company, I can't say yet, we're going to announce it in a couple of weeks."- Kanye West
Kanye West dropped a bomb on the sneaker world when he went on Philadelphia's Wired 96.5 earlier this week and told the radio station that he had just signed a new sneaker deal with a major company. It's widely speculated that Kanye is referring to adidas. Kanye fired shots at Nike CEO Mark Parker last night during his performance during his Yeezus Tour performance at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, saying, "Mark Parker even talked shit," and it's created a perfect storm for him to leave the Swoosh.
But would it be a good idea for Kanye to join adidas?
Like Nike, adidas has its host of signature athletes, but it also has a more extensive history of working with high-fashion designers, which Kanye West fancies himself to be. Adidas has a ten-year running partnership with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto under the Y-3 label, and has also produced collections with Jeremy Scott, Raf Simons, and Rick Owens. Kanye would join the upper crust of the fashion world that he's been striving to be accepted by, and doing it with a brand, adidas, that's already embedded in hip-hop. Adidas has worked with hip-hop acts Run DMC, Big Sean, A$AP Rocky, and Snoop Dogg. Kanye would feel at home to express both of his passions: hip-hop and fashion. He would also, potentially, be making a product that's accessible to more than the top one percent.
Kanye would join the upper crust of the fashion world that he's been striving to be accepted by.
From what we know, Kanye admits it's important the brand he's working with has strong production and distribution, which adidas has. The sneaker could be placed at a price point that makes sense to Kanye, adidas, and the consumer, and could further validate Kanye's design prowess. Adidas has trusted the other designers it's worked with to mash-up and re-appropriate its classic models into silhouettes that make sense to style-conscious consumers.
Kanye's love for Air Jordans is strong—admitting that he got kicked out of class in fourth grade for drawing the sneakers during class—but he's also confessed an interest in adidas, and admitted that he would make trips to Sportie L.A. to score exclusive pairs. His obsession with having vaunted kicks from adidas would come full circle if designed hyped sneakers for the brand.
But Kanye likes to feel special with whatever he does. He wouldn't be the only designer with a high-fashion pedigree at adidas. Kanye would be viewed as another big name amongst an already impressive line-up of first-rate designers. Kanye, more than likely, would have a complete line of sneakers. People wouldn't be waiting for months on end just for one pair of sneakers—which could damage the organic hype he built with Nike. With a potential Kanye collection released every season, there would no longer be a waiting game, and it wouldn't be as special for fans to obtain a product that everyone else wants because it would be a matter of finding a shop that has your size in stock.
The Air Yeezy I and II are legends to sneaker collectors. The release of the Air Yeezy II overshadowed Nike's release of the Air Jordan IV "Military Blue" and it's unlikely that an adidas sneaker would be able to disrupt releases by either Nike or Jordan, and he wouldn't be able to design sneakers for Nike and adidas.
Also, If Kanye announces a deal with adidas, would the release of the sneaker everyone is losing their shit over — the Air Yeezy II "Red October"— be jeopordized? If the Kanye/adidas line doesn't live up to the hype of the Red October, it would be a monumental failure for their partnership. What would happen to all the kids who entered the Red October contest, won a pair, and never received them?
There are pros and cons to Kanye signing a deal with adidas, even if it hasn't been announced. He'd finally be able to get out his dreams, but he'd no longer be the only non-athlete who's designing sneakers for the top athletic brand in the world. He wouldn't be jumping over the Jumpman, he'd be siding with the brand that originally wanted to sign Jordan.
There's still time to speculate. Kanye could, in all reality, be announcing an ever bigger deal with Nike—or putting the ink on a deal that surpasses any athlete's.