5 Predictions for Where Kanye West Will Take adidas in the Future

  • Kanye West, Kim Kardashian

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    Family ties

    If you’ve ever stood at a supermarket checkout counter, you know Kim Kardashian has one big thing in common with Kanye West: People really seem to care what she’s up to. My wife watches her show sometimes, and for the life of me, I can’t possibly understand our collective fascination with this family and its superficial travails. But then, I’m 35 and loyally watch professional wrestling, so I admit I don’t have a leg to stand on.

    Never mind the reality show, Kim Kardashian has more than 34 million Instagram followers, and not all of them are thirsty men. I’d imagine Kanye knows the viral potential he has at his disposal here. And I would expect him to take his product placement game to a new level once he really gets rolling with his adidas clothing line.

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  • Andrew Wiggins NBA rookie

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    Athletic supporter

    When I wrote for Champs Sports about why Wolves wunderkind Andrew Wiggins deserves a signature sneaker, one suggestion was to involve the company’s most progressive employee. Perhaps soliciting Kanye’s design input would provide an extra PR boost, so to speak, for one of the most exciting young players to come along in years.

    This is less a prediction and more a left-field suggestion, but West has shown an interest in “athleisure” with his dalliances with the ZX Flux and Boost runners. Who’s to say he wouldn’t enjoy attempting to give a jolt to adidas’ struggling U.S. athletic footwear market? (According to Fortune, adidas has just a three percent market share in basketball sneakers.)

    Obviously, Kanye will never be viewed as some great athlete–I mean, look at him. But the thinking here is that from adidas’ perspective, if you have him at your disposal, you might as well attempt to involve him in as many things as possible to see if something sticks. Besides, it’s not like most basketball sneakers are worn on court anyway.

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  • Kanye West adidas fashion show

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    Control system

    Kanye has talked numerous times about co-opting high fashion and democratizing it. I didn’t take that to mean you’d find Yeezy Boosts readily available, especially after the first colorway retailed at $350 and numbered a reseller-friendly 9,000 pairs. But especially with his fashion line, it would seem he wants to be more user-friendly when it comes to the price tags attached to his passion project.

    “The very thing that supposedly made me special — the jacket no one could get, the direct communications with the designers,” West told the New York Times last month, “I want to give that to the world.”

    West exerts ultimate control and detail in his music; it goes to follow he’d want the same in terms of being a curator of fashion. He detailed in his style.com interview his earnest ambition of becoming “the Steve Jobs of Gap,” a full-circle thing if you consider he has history there.

    “I dreamed, since I was a little kid, of having my own store where I could curate every shoe, sweatshirt and color,” West told the Times. “I have sketches of it. I cried over the idea of having my own store.”

    Whether adidas would allow him that latitude under their umbrella is unclear–he does claim his contract wouldn’t preclude it–but it seems apparent he won’t rest until “Kanye” is not just a personal brand but a name brand. With all he’s accomplished thus far, who are we to doubt him?

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  • Kanye West Kim Kardashian North West

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    Child's play

    A potentially telling anecdote from the New York Times profile involved West’s stop at children’s store Sweet William, where he picked up some toys and clothing for his not-yet-2-year-old daughter, North. Among the items he picked out was a denim jumpsuit intended for a preschool-age child. Why would he need that? “It’s for reference,” was his explanation.

    Make no mistake, children’s clothing is big business, especially since kids outgrow it about as fast as you can buy it. As Kanye endeavors to transition from renaissance man to family man, perhaps his true calling is to outfit not his wife, but his other, younger muse. Remember how charming he was way back in the day on Oprah? He can get there again, and with another child now on the way, becoming a major presence in kids’ clothing might just be the best path.

    “I feel like now I have an amazing wife, a supersmart child and the opportunity to create in two major fields,” West told the Times. “Before I had those outlets, my ego was all I had.”

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  • adidas Yeezy Boost Kanye West
    Kanye's next sneaker will look more on-brand

    If you can, strip away the hype for a second and take a look at the Yeezy 750 Boost. We can all imagine Kanye pulling it off, but are these suped-up Uggs honestly something you would normally buy for yourself if he wasn’t attached? If the answer is yes, more power to you. But I suspect most are like me: daring at times, but generally somewhat more conservative with our footwear.

    Even Kanye himself has tended to skew more minimalist of late. The upcoming Yeezy 350 Boost resembles the low-profile Nike Roshe in its simplicity, while he has recently favored all-white Ultra Boosts and Energy Boosts that eschew bells and whistles. Kanye has stressed again and again that he wants to bring high fashion to the masses. Making a more visually accessible flagship sneaker would accomplish that.

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  • Kanye West, Kim Kardashian
  • Andrew Wiggins NBA rookie
  • Kanye West adidas fashion show
  • Kanye West Kim Kardashian North West
  • adidas Yeezy Boost Kanye West

Though its nominal centerpieces are an exhibition basketball game and a past-its-prime dunk contest, NBA All-Star Weekend has taken on a position of supreme reverence, and not just within its sport. Nestled directly between the Super Bowl and March Madness, ASW has become a necessary focus for brands who are in the business of jockeying for attention. This was magnified even more than usual this year when seemingly the entire world descended on New York City.

Despite single-degree temperatures, everywhere you looked everyone was doing their best to make their presences felt. The Jordan Brand had outposts all over the five boroughs, Under Armour and Stephen Curry unveiled their new signature sneaker, Zach LaVine jumped out of the building, and Drake dropped a pretty solid mixtape/album. Factor in New York Fashion Week and Valentine’s Day, and everyone’s head was on a swivel.

Amid all that, nobody took a bigger bite out of the Big Apple than Kanye West.

Never one to blend into the background, Kanye, who turned 38 years old today, pulled out every stop to debut his adidas signature sneaker, the Yeezy Boost. He performed a free Flatiron concert, staged a much-ballyhooed fashion show for his new adidas clothing line, surprised two SoHo customers by hand-delivering their sneakers–wearing a rarely seen smile, no less–and appeared out of nowhere to present a pair to Drake on stage. For his part, Drake shrewdly parked the Yeezys on top of a speaker; those Jordan checks don’t send themselves.

The buzz from that frenzied week gradually died out, but it was still a successful endeavor for Kanye, who emerged as the obvious face of a major brand, albeit one which had seen better days. It seemed a mutually beneficial relationship: adidas turned to West for a shot in the arm in a sportswear marketplace dominated by Nike, while he hoped to use them to help him realize his utilitarian and utopian approach to high fashion.

“We’re constantly growing, we’re constantly building,” West told style.com in a February interview. “I mean, this is the beginning of something truly democratic. You know, I am here to take the best talents from fashion and give them to the people.”

How successful he will be is anyone’s guess, but there’s no question he has grand ambitions. In honor of Yeezy’s 38th birthday today, here are 5 Predictions for Where Kanye West Will Take adidas in the Future.

Follow Bryan on Twitter at @SportsAngle

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