The Yeezy collaboration between Adidas and rapper Kanye West, known for selling $350 high top shoes and $30 sweatshirts, is expanding in a major way.
The partnership, which began two years and three “Yeezy seasons” ago, is now appropriately being called Adidas + Kanye West and given its own business unit, separate from Adidas’ main line.
A new team will be formed at Adidas’ design headquarters in Portland, Oregon working exclusively with the new branded product. The new initiative also includes separate retail stores for the collaboration, as well as an expansion outside of just lifestyle products and into “performance-intended designs.”
Adidas is calling it “the most significant partnership ever created between an athletic brand and a non-athlete” in a statement.
“Kanye is a true creator who has the ability to see things others don’t. We are excited and honored to build on this partnership, and eagerly look forward to defining the future together,” Eric Liedtke, adidas CMO, said in a statement.
It seems likely that Adidas is attempting to chase the runaway success of the Nike’s Air Jordan, it’s longterm collaboration with Michael Jordan, which has ballooned into a $2 billion sub-brand and started with a high profile celebrity endorsement. Adidas is particularly hoping for increased in the North American market, which is about a $3 billion market for the sports giant, lagging behind rival Nike’s $15 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
West partnered with Adidas in 2013 after leaving a partnership with Nike that started in 2009, called “Air Yeezy,” citing a need to “provide for my family” and insinuating Adidas was offering royalties while Nike refused, according to Sports Illustrated.
The continuation of the Yeezy brand is likely a good thing for the sports brand, which has seen “unprecedented sales” according to to Adidas. The Yeezy shoes themselves were particularly well received, immediately selling out upon each release and going for thousands on Ebay. They even helped Adidas become the most “Liked” brand on Instagram in 2015.
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