It was very hectic this past week in NYC, with Fashion Week and NBA All-Star Weekend. The who’s who of anything relevant was in town, in addition to the aspiring models, designers, rappers, and thots all trying to get their big breaks. Even with all the big names in the City, none seemed to have a bigger week than (unsurprisingly) Kanye West. He performed at a few concerts, appeared on SNL, debuted his clothing line, and sat front row at some fashion shows. However, West’s main mission this past weekend was launching his adidas Yeezy 750 Boosts. This was the culmination of several years of backlash against big corporations, especially Nike, and it marked his foray into consumer product. The hype was immense, as West proclaimed that the “other company in Portland” should be afraid of him. Should it really?
I’m sure that Nike does not give a damn about the Yeezy Boosts. There’s no doubt that Kanye West is an influential figure among the youth, as this demographic will buy anything he name drops or associates with. However, West is trying to fight the world’s most valuable sports brand. Nike is the 22nd most valuable global brand and almost triples adidas’ value. Kanye is like the mosquito in Nike’s ear. The Yeezy Boosts fall under the “sportswear” category, a division that Nike probably only uses to stay relevant and connected with pop culture. The Swoosh generates most of its profits from the major sports, hence why it spent a whopping amount on pop-up stores/ brand activations all over NYC for NBA All Star Weekend. Basketball apparel is a billion dollar business and that’s wear Nike’s focus was. Both Nike and adidas are culturally relevant and “cool” brands, but only Nike triumphs in terms of the athletic goods market. adidas is better at being a lifestyle brand than Nike, but you can’t pay the bills with coolness. Sorry for all the business talk, but it annoys me when people make overzealous statements with no logic behind them. So, should Nike be afraid? I’m sure CEO Mark Parker isn’t waking up in the middle of the night due to Kanye disrupting his dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a hug Kanye supporter since the pre-Collage Dropout days, but he’s not changing the tides of the sneaker industry with a mediocre shoe that cost $375. It’ll take time to move the needle and I’m sure that West will continue to refine his product, which will only help adidas generate further brand value. I haven’t heard people talk this much about adidas until this past weekend, and I can’t remember the last time the company sold out of a shoe. What Kanye will do is capture those consumers who don’t care much for the advanced sneaker technology that Nike specializes in. The more casual, fashion-driven individuals can now confidently choose adidas without feeling the pressure of buying Nikes because everyone else is. Kanye can add even more value if he can produce apparel that everyone can wear. The Kanye West and adidas partnership is off to the great start, but it’s going to need consistent development if they actually wants to instill concern in Nike. Hopefully they do because competition is great for consumers, as it’ll only bring quality products for us. We’ll wait and see.