Adidas is doubling down on Kanye West. The German sportswear brand re-upped a collaboration with the rapper/performance artist/designer/provocateur, signing West to what it described in a press release as "long-term relationship" with the "creative pioneer."
The length and compensation of the deal have not been disclosed. West announced in late 2013 he was leaving sportswear giant Nike for competitor Adidas. His Adidas designs, including apparel but especially his Yeezy Boost shoes, have created a buzz in fashion and sneakerhead circles. Yeezy Boost 750 high-tops retail in limited numbers for $350 but resell for thousands.
Current West-branded gear is lifestyle-focused. With increasing sales in mind, the relationship is set to be expanded, with plans for performance gear and retail stores that will serve as hubs for West-Adidas collaborations. After driving interest with West's designs, "the sportswear company is betting the rapper also can drive sales of clothes and shoes for the basketball court or football field," the Wall Street Journal wrote.
West told the Journal he wants athletes in the NBA or NFL in his shoes and that he thinks being a musician requires performance gear. "I’m not just a musician singing in front of a mic; we are running, jumping, we’re getting hurt," he told the Journal. "We’re in the same arenas that the ballplayers play in."
With the aid of the massive Jordan brand and deals with NBA players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, Nike dominates in North American sales. Last year Adidas' North American sales rose about 5 percent, but the total was still five times less than Nike's performance. Upstart Under Armour overtook Adidas for the No. 2 spot in the U.S. in 2014.
"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 Group executive board member responsible for global brands, said in a statement.
Locations of the West-branded retail shops have not been disclosed, and gear is expected to be sold at other retail stores. Performance lines connected with non-athletes are becoming more common with the rise of so-called athleisure gear, most notably with the Fabletics line from actress Kate Hudson.