Adidas announced on April Fool’s Day that it would have “a new beginning” on 4.4, but it wasn’t a joke. Some guessed that it would be a collection with Pokémon. Other hardcore brand loyalists kicked around assumptions that it would have to do with Adidas relaunching of its ZX campaign. There were even poorly informed conclusions that it would be suede trainers for the Wolverhampton Wanderers of England’s Premier League. But the announcement, which had three black stripes on a yellow background, was made to resemble a bee, or rather a Bey, as in Beyoncé.
It was made official this morning in an Instagram video from Adidas, with additional details from CNBC reporter Jess Golden saying, “Adidas and Beyoncé have announced a multi-layered partnership today. Beyoncé will be a creative partner for the brand, develop new signature footwear and apparel, as well as relaunch her Ivy Park brand with Adidas.”
In a press release, Beyoncé said, “This is the partnership of a lifetime for me. Adidas has had tremendous success in pushing creative boundaries. We share a philosophy that puts creativity, growth, and social responsibility at the forefront of business. I look forward to relaunching and expanding Ivy Park on a truly global scale with a proven, dynamic leader.”
The feeling is mutual with Adidas. “As the creator sports brand, Adidas challenges the status quo and pushes the limits of creativity through its open-source approach,” said Eric Liedtke, Executive Board Member, Global Brands, Adidas . “Beyoncé is an iconic creator but also a proven business leader, and together, we have the ability to inspire change and empower the next generation of creators.”
It’s a big move for Adidas—especially in the women’s space. The brand has signed sisters Kylie and Kendall Jenner to brand ambassador positions over the past few years, and Kylie’s co-sign of the Adidas Falcon no doubt helped the company sell a few sneakers. But neither of the Jenner sisters were given their own signature shoes, and they didn’t do much for the brand outside of wearing the product, starring in a campaign, and posting it on their Instagram accounts, which is significant for their large followings. (Beyoncé has 126 million Instagram followers, and the Jenners have a combined 238 million.)
The Beyoncé deal is much bigger than that. She’s getting her own sneakers, clothes, and relaunching her Ivy Park athleisure brand under Adidas’ guidance.
Last year saw turbulent times for Ivy Park. Sir Philip Green, who owns Topshop, partnered with Beyoncé on the launch of Ivy Park in 2016. In 2019 he was accused of racial and sexual harassment and stepped away from the company. Following that, Beyoncé acquired full ownership of Ivy Park.
It’s difficult to operate your own clothing company, and using Adidas’ infrastructure and technologies will only help further the quality and innovative fabrics used in Ivy Park. Simply put: Its production, quality control, and output will get better and more streamlined with Adidas.
It’s not unfair to say that Beyoncé isn’t a huge player in the sneaker community, and that’s OK. Her name holds enough weight. Even if people aren’t checking to see what she has on feet—it’s usually not sneakers, anyway—they still obsess over what she wears. Her online community, the BeyHive, has become notorious for its dedication to their patron saint. Beyoncé also ranks as the fourth-richest singer in the world, with a net worth around $500 million. That’s only bound to go up from this Adidas deal—God knows how much the brand had to shell out for her services.
The women’s market is something that we have seen brands go after more aggressively in recent years. Adidas dedicated its Instagram solely to women in March for Women’s History Month. Female consumers often complain about footwear brands’ approach of “shrink it and pink it” when it comes to making shoes for women, and someone like Beyoncé could change that. Giving women sneakers and clothes designed—or at least approved—by someone that they look up to and idolize is a step in the right direction, even if Beyoncé is more known for stilettos than shelltoes.
Like all things, only time will tell what the product looks like and how it’s received by the public. If there’s one thing Adidas does well, it’s work with celebrity talent. There’s no need to break down the history of it all, but since the brand started to work with Run-DMC in 1986, it has been a home for artists such as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, Pusha-T, and more. Kanye West’s Yeezy line has been a growing part of the brand’s business since they joined forces in 2014.
The elephant in the room is that Beyoncé’s husband, JAY-Z, works for Puma Basketball as creative director. His Roc Nation label and sports agency also has an ongoing partnership with Puma, and his longtime friend and business partner Emory Jones has been with the brand for nine years. Some might wonder, why didn’t Beyoncé sign with Puma instead of Adidas, the company’s rival brand since its inception? It's hard to say. Money could have been an issue, or maybe it just didn't work out.
Taking another step back, it’s also interesting that Beyoncé joined up with Adidas, given that Kanye West, who used to be best buds with her husband, is the brand’s top endorser and is credited with bringing the company back to relevance. According to the internet rumor mill, Beyoncé has a longstanding feud with West’s wife, Kim Kardashian. It’s interesting to see them tied to the same sportswear brand.
One thing that Kanye West and Beyoncé don’t share the same political outlook. West, who’s met with President Donald Trump and become notorious for wearing Make America Great Again hats and his co-sign of conservative pundit Candace Owens, is the political opposite of Beyoncé. She’s supported Beto O’Rourke during his bid for U.S. Senate, which he lost to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, and she and her husband are close with Barack and Michelle Obama.
If Adidas is looking to balance out West’s conservative outlook, they found the right partner in Beyoncé. Look at how the word “social responsibility” is used in the press release. Clothes and sneakers are worn by people from all walks of life, but Adidas is putting it out there that this partnership stands for something, which is likely coded language for embracing left-leaning politics. We’re coming into an election cycle. Beyoncé will be politically active and wearing the clothes. From an optics standpoint, it’s good marketing for Adidas.
There will be plenty of sneaker purists who frown at Beyoncé being the key endorser at their favorite footwear brand, but this isn’t for them. It’s for the masses. It’s made to connect with the people who aren’t footwear nerds. The people who stream Beyoncé’s music and also want the matching sneakers. Reebok recently signed Cardi B, and this is a strong move by Adidas to not only gain attention and sell sneakers, but to prove that they have a serious brand strategy and aren’t coasting behind Nike.