In a white Prada paper bag are two Adidas boxes. One in blue from the Originals line. The other in black from their mainline. Rumours of a Prada and Adidas collaboration have become a reality. As announced on WWD, the year-end will see the release of two Prada for Adidas silhouettes which would be manufactured in Italy by Prada’s factories. Followed by, a second collaborative capsule collection arriving in early 2020, featuring performance sailing footwear from Prada’s Linea Rossa line.
Adidas has a strong list of collaborators with the likes of Alexander Wang, Jeremy Scott, Opening Ceremony and Junya Watanabe. In the case of Stella McCartney and Yohji Yamamoto, they have an on-going partnership with a womenswear line by McCartney and Y-3 by Yamamoto. Although for Adidas, they could easily pass as standalone brands.
Given the fact that the sportswear industry is a booming financial gold mine, these collaborations shouldn’t come as a surprise. In the words of Jarrett Reynold, Nike’s senior apparel design director for both their sportswear line and Nikelab, “collaborations used to be niche, now collaborations are pop culture”. Unlike fast-fashion collaborations where one could view it as luxury ready-to-wear with a lesser price tag and poorer quality, the sacred aspect of luxury is preserved with sportswear. Exclusivity remains with the word “limited edition” signifying that it’s time-bound and scarce. And in the resale market, prices double, even triple than its original retail price. More than a win-win situation, its symbiosis. For long-established luxury houses, they access a younger demographic, get an edge to their image and associate themselves with the activewear industry that is constantly innovating. Sportswear labels, on the other hand, receive the best of production abilities and techniques, as well as a focused design aesthetic.
Valentino’s VLNT line, their Moncler collaboration and Prada’s rebooting of its Linea Rossa line are a testimony to that. Luxury fashion’s greats have experience in the streetwear and sportswear industry — Riccardo Tisci with Puma, Dior’s Kim Jones with Iceberg and Umbro, and Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh with Off-White. Aptly said by Abloh, “streetwear is the vibe of the time”. Amongst online consumerist and flexing culture, Gen Z and Millenials don streetwear as their uniform.
Does this signify the democratization of luxury or is it the birth of a new tier of luxury? There’s Hermes. Then, there’s Gucci. And then, there’s Michael Kors. Like Dante’s Inferno with its nine circles, each tier is different yet representing the same ideal as a whole. Ultimately it comes down to the definition of luxury — it is about exclusivity — or is it about the brand itself?
Prada for Adidas’ press release reads: “The aim of this partnership is to investigate the realms of heritage, technology and innovation — and to challenge conventional wisdom through unexpected strategies.” Perhaps, this fusion of luxury house and sportswear brand is not a trend but a new model for fashion. Or even a lifestyle, as more people prioritise their health and well-being. In an industry where constant creation is in motion, new pieces for each season, two heads may be better in one. What more with two distinct teams to create something truly revolutionary.