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How Adidas went from street to luxury

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Balenciaga x adidas

A mini travel duffle-shaped bag retails for 2,200 euros; a v-neck t-shirt costs 520 euros; a pair of loafers is 890 euros. Such are the price points of luxury goods, at which most seasoned high-end shoppers rarely bat an eyelid. But these items, as it happens, are from the new adidas collection in collaboration with Gucci, augmenting everything from its affordable street codes to quality craftsmanship and high prices.

Adidas is quietly repositioning itself as the sportswear giant of the higher echelons. The brand has collaborated with both Gucci and Balenciaga this month, both of which drew wide media attention. According to The Fashion Law, Brian Grevy, Adidas executive board member responsible for global brands, said last year that luxury designs “inspired by Adidas and worn for status” helped create brand heat.”

Brand heat, of course, ignites consumer interest and has a positive effect on the bottom line. It also elevates the notion of a sportswear company to that of a luxury brand, and all the cachet that comes associated with it.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported Adidas’ latest high-end collaborations are part of its new brand strategy. This has seen the German sportswear company feature heavily in the runway collections of both Gucci and Balenciaga, including co-branded products in tailoring and premium accessories, categories not usually found in adidas’ own-operated retail.

The cachet of luxury

While Adidas is no stranger to collaborations with high-end designers, cue Stella McCartney, Prada, Yeezy and Jil Sander, the cool factor of sportswear is also beneficial to luxury houses. The carefully timed drops of sneaker styles is akin to the aspiration of luxury products, fuelled by rarity and a “those in the know” marketing approach.

Nike, too, has a history of luxury collabs, with Louis Vuitton, Balmain and Comme des Garçons just some of the brands that have paired up with the American sportswear company, creating an almost cult-like status of sneakers with their time-limited editions.

Insights from Heuritech say part of what makes the "collaboration between luxury and streetwear so frictionless is both of their capacities to create a secret garden for its consumers. Luxury leans on its ethos for appeal, while streetwear creates an almost cult-like relationship with its consumer through highly personalised collection and communication strategies."

Back to Adidas and Gucci, the latest collaboration blends streetwear with a spectrum of sport-inspired pieces in which the heritage of both brands is visible, either through co-branding or using heritage motifs.

Now all we need is a collab with Hermès.

Read more about adidas on their brandpage