Having launched headline-grabbing collaborations with high fashion titans such as Prada and Gucci in recent years, one could almost be forgiven for thinking this was the start of a new design era for adidas. Sorry, but wrong nonetheless.
In fact, not only would you be doing the German sportswear brand a disservice by pointing to these links as a new trend or fledgling company, but you would also be ignoring – or worse, rewriting – the history of the sportswear entirely. collaborations. adidas has been making inroads into the world of high fashion collaborations for a long, long time now.
As notable as they are, both in their media notoriety and their design tropes, adidas’ collaborations with the two Italian houses are far from the start of their high-design ambitions: the Raf Simons Ozweego is an enduring classic of 2013 – a capital F “Mode”. , “Capital D ‘Dad Shoe’ – released almost a decade ago, before every designer outfit on the planet had one named after it. It’s a design that lives free in my head , and apparently also in the minds of many other designers, as well as in my shoe rack.Who else could convince me to buy a black and yellow sneaker?I don’t own a single other black pair, and I don’t don’t even like yellow – yet here we are.
Prior to this, there was (and still is) a long-standing collaboration between the Three Stripes and one of the most innovative designers living and working today, Yohji Yamamoto, in the form of co-brand Y -3: a sportswear-cum-high -the fusion of fashion which, first arriving in spectacular style in the fall/winter 2001 season and fully realized in the fall/winter 2007 season, has undoubtedly opened up the path to the rise of streetwear in the annals of the fashion world that we now take for granted.
Beyond – and very likely, to some extent, following – this fruitful creative relationship, there has also been much varied, much anticipated and much appreciated work with the likes of the aesthetic optimist Pharrell Williams and the perpetual misanthrope Rick Owens. If the sleek athleticism of Yamamoto’s Y-3, with silhouettes like the Kubo, is at one end of the design spectrum, Williams’ clever and playful creative takes in the middle, then Owens’ hulking juggernaut stoically smolders at the other – their collective is tangible proof of adidas’ collaborative openness.
The thing is, out of all of these collections, there were notable and industry-disrupting releases. From some there were classics, collectibles, personal favorites. Yet it always seemed to me that adidas – as a true pioneer in the sneaker world – was always on the lookout for something more. And to that end, an unconfirmed collaboration with Balenciaga could see that search come to an end. Or, at least, a well-deserved moment of rest before the hard work inevitably resumes, with adidas never one to consider the job truly done.
A look back at adidas’ most recent collaborations: there have been some shining moments in their work with Prada and Gucci. The clothing line that forms the core of Guccidas (or adigucci, as we coined it internally) is beautiful – subtly integrated and delivered with a sense of both brand identities fully intact. The Forum Pradidas Re-nylon and the bowling bag which both haunt my dreams and taunt my storage spaces by their absence are also more than worthy of the branding of the two brands.
Where Nike has had success with high fashion names like Dior and Louis Vuitton through licensing deals, adidas has never been content with half measures – their collaborations have always been full and unqualified. In this sense, perhaps, what they were looking for above all was a partner who shared this vision and this passion for creative evolution.
If an apparent leak from mid-March claiming to show an adidas x Balenciaga Triple-S is to be believed, the German sportswear giant may well have found its soul mate.
What we envision is a potential co-branded version of Balenciaga’s signature sneaker: a relatively understated shoe (insofar as the Triple-S can be understated), and – because, rather than in spite of this – to almost perfect.
Seeking to create a truly avant-garde sneaker with high fashion credentials, adidas found an ideal partner in Balenciaga. It goes without saying that Alessandro Michele, Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada are creative visionaries – the proof being readily available in Gucci and Prada’s own collections as well as their joint efforts to date. But Demna is a visionary of another, more contemporary kind.
It’s more about a common mentality: between Balenciaga and adidas, there is no disparity in the esteem that each brand has for sneakers as art.
For Demna and her colleagues, sneakers are to be coveted on the same level as tailoring, outerwear and more traditional high-end accessories such as bags. It is a respect that goes well beyond philosophy and into the practical rendering of the Parisian house. Balenciaga’s efforts in recent years to push the medium forward, starting with the now-iconic Triple-S and moving on to silhouettes such as the truly ingenious Defender, Runner and X-Pander, are impossible to ignore.
At Balenciaga, sneakers are a world apart. A universe to be explored in depth, with rules to be tested, bent and finally broken in search of new aesthetic forms. Here, Demna is a kid in a candy store — she’s not afraid to show wonder, joy, and even a sense of idealistic naivety when it comes to what’s possible. It’s a much-needed mindset in the luxury sector, which, after deigning over the past decade to associate itself with streetwear and athletics, is still on pause at the final frontier – afraid to cross the Rubicon sneaker as Demna and Co. have the time of their lives on the opposite bank.
It is also an ideal base to build a partnership with a brand whose main activity is footwear. A brand like adidas, which has proudly made sneakers the core of its business for nearly three-quarters of a century, needs an associate who can match their own drive, desire and tangible passion for the future of footwear. athletic style. And, as an innovator in its own right, Balenciaga is exactly that.
A new Triple-S would be an event in itself. But more than that, an adidas x Balenciaga Triple-S idea is exciting because of what it represents: the possibilities of a partnership made in sneaker heaven. It’s a love letter to the sneakers themselves, just as this article is a letter to adidas’ own vision for the future of footwear.