Recently, some juicy rumors started to circulate, suggesting that longtime Air Jordan collaborator Drake was in talks with adidas about a new partnership. Adding fuel to the industry speculation, Drake was spotted not long after laced up in a pair of YEEZY boots.
The small circle of Air Jordan collaborators is comparatively quite small in contrast with adidas’ lengthy roster of partners in fashion and music. Jordan collaborations with Aleali May and DJ Khaled were highly restricted to limited availability, and news of Justin Timberlake’s Jordan collaboration shocked Super Bowl fans and sneakerheads alike. On the other hand, most high-profile adidas collaborations with Kanye West, Pharrell and designers like Raf Simons are globally available in a plethora of retailers.
While nothing has been confirmed as of yet, the move would surely be a loss for Nike and the Jordan brand.
Each of the brands clearly offers a different set of opportunities for Drake and his team (them boys up to something…). We address the pros and cons below. Let us know what you think in the comments.
What a Time to Join adidas
Drake has been with Nike since 2013 and released what, four Jordan sneakers to the public so far? Compare and contrast that with Kanye West’s run at adidas (at least 10 since 2015) and it’s not hard to see why Drake has grown frustrated at the Swoosh. ‘Ye wanted out of his deal at Nike because he felt creatively suppressed; it wouldn’t surprise me if Drake was in the same boat.
Visibility is a big factor, too. Look at “God’s Plan” — Drake smashed records set by the likes of Taylor Swift and Adele, and could feasibly lay claim to the title of the biggest musician on the planet right now. adidas has always been historically strong in Europe and even overtook Jordan Brand to reach number two in U.S. sneaker sales last year. The Three Stripes can provide him with the exposure his current celebrity deserves — the type he wouldn’t get, at least not in Europe, by merely rolling out basketball silhouettes every year or so. Do people even care about basketball sneakers in 2018?
I’m British, so naturally, I don’t fuck with Jordan. But even hardcore fans will admit their celebrity sneakers are usually pretty lazy (Virgil’s Air Jordan 1 being the exception). Rather than merely repurposing classic Jordans in new colorways, I’d love to see Drake go to adi and prove his creative mettle by coming up with a whole new silhouette of his own. Either that or he could spearhead an upcoming release (imagine a Yung 1 in black and gold complete with OVO Owl branding?!)
Leaving for adidas won’t be the easy payday for Drake that some will have you believe. It’s a big risk; his name isn’t a guarantor of success — even Pharrell has seen some of his kicks wind up on the sale rack. If he goes there with the sole intention of slapping some OVO branding on an NMD or Ultra Boost, then forget about it. But if he genuinely has designs on becoming a player in the sneaker game, there’s no better place to hone his craft. Just ask Kanye. All we need next is a replacement banger for “Jumpman.”
Graeme Campbell, Senior Staff Writer
Jumpman Family is Where Drake Belongs
At this point, Air Jordan sneakers are intricately tied to Drake’s personal brand. In short, Drake wouldn’t be the same artist we know and love without his Jumpman affiliation, or his Jordan collaborations. Taking a quality over quantity approach, the 6God has collaborated with Michael Jordan’s eponymous label a handful of times, bringing us OVO-branded versions of the Jordan 8, 10 and 12, plus OVO x Jordan apparel. Jordan has also been outfitting Drake with one-of-one pairs for his tour wardrobe. It’s a relationship that works. And who could forget 2015’s Future-assisted “Jumpman” from the collaborative album What a Time to Be Alive? Surely this was a tune that transcended both sneaker culture and hip-hop culture, to become a way bigger moment.
But the main thing is, not just anyone gets a Jordan collaboration, and Drake’s partnership with the brand puts him in a special position. Sure, the Jordan portfolio is growing to include musicians like Justin Timberlake and artists like KAWS, but Jordan still does more selective storytelling when it comes to the collaborative “X.” The choice seems to boil down to the prestige of Air Jordan versus the profitability of adidas. Does Drake really need the money?
Additionally, as massive as YEEZYs are, it’s highly unlikely that a Drake x adidas collaboration would ever eclipse the success of three-striped partnerships with Kanye West or even Pharrell Williams. And as brand loyal as Drake seems (have you seen how much Stone Island he wears?) on social media, it’s also highly unlikely that Drake would ever give up wearing Nikes altogether, and surely this is something an adidas contract would demand.
As a sidebar for Drake and Air Jordan, there is also an obvious tie-in with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, a team that Drake vehemently supports as a global ambassador. Plus, these pictures of Drake kicking it with Nike CEO Mark Parker and legendary designer Tinker Hatfield were straight up heartwarming. Stay with the Jumpman, Drizzy.
Chris Danforth, Footwear Editor
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- Main & Featured Image: Erika Goldring / Getty Images