Prada and adidas Originals have taken their partnership to a new level with their latest collection. For the first time, the two iconic brands have combined on a range of apparel in addition to a set of sneakers and bags. But while the inclusion of ready-to-wear apparel is what makes this collection unique when compared to the previous two, the crown jewel of the collection is still the adidas Forum. It’s a style the German sportswear giant has been focusing a lot on over the past 12 months, and which was first teased by A$AP Rocky several months ago.

Not only does the first co-branded apparel collection represent a big step forward in terms of output, each of the pieces also seamlessly combine both brands’ design languages. On the apparel end, adidas’ Three Stripes branding is cleverly applied to some of Prada’s most famous silhouettes, while the Italian fashion house’s signature Re-Nylon plays a large part in every piece, from the bags and accessories to the Forum sneakers.

The Forum is now the third sneaker model overall that has been given the Prada treatment following the Superstar in 2020 and the performance-focused Luna Rossa ’21 from earlier this year. “From the very beginning of our partnership together, the Forum has always been a part of our conversations,” explains Stefano Pierre Beruschi, head of design for adidas collaborations. “Not only is it one of adidas’ most iconic silhouettes, but we also jointly agreed it would be the perfect archetype to express as a centerpiece for our third collaborative project.”

Whereas the co-branded Superstar was meant to introduce the world to the notion of a luxury fashion house and a global sportswear powerhouse collaborating, and the Luna Rossa ’21 served to bring adidas’ performance know-how to the world of sailing, the Forum collection aims to push the boundaries of what this partnership can be even further. Hence, the debut of co-branded apparel.

“Once we had made the decision to use Prada’s Re-Nylon textile as a focal point for the Forum silhouette, it naturally followed for us to expand the project into apparel and accessories,” Beruschi reveals. “With the versatility of this material, we crafted a high-density capsule collection, unified by material, color, and by the DNA of both brands – merging the height of Luxury and the 3 Stripes.”

The Re-Nylon Beruschi mentions refers to the material highlight of the collection, which is a re-engineered version of Prada’s signature nylon that has been used in its mainline products for decades. In a bid to be more environmentally conscious, Prada launched Re-Nylon in 2019, which uses recycled and purified plastic trash recovered from oceans to make the material. In 2021, Prada succeeded in its aim to shift its entire production from virgin nylon to Re-Nylon. Now, in early 2022, the collection serves to highlight the material innovation, as it's part of the DNA of every single piece in the collection.

The footwear part of Prada and adidas’ Re-Nylon collection comprises the Forum Hi and Low in both all-black and all-white colorways. The recycled nylon material covers most of the sneakers’ uppers, and is complemented by the subtle use of patent leather on the Three Stripes branding and overlays on the toe and heel of each shoe. Like all previous Prada x adidas collaborations, the footwear is understated, choosing to lean on themes of subtle elegance rather than bright, eye-catching colors and designs. The Prada way.

“When two iconic brands come together to combine their distinct worlds, it can be easy to overdo things. But sometimes less is more. The key for us throughout the design process was prioritizing balance and restraint,” Beruschi says. “The Forum shoes in this collaboration are made by hand, Made in Italy, and brought to life with finesse and precision by the finest craftsmen in the world.”

Another key detail of the sneakers — Re-nylon aside — is the use of removable Prada pouches. On the low-top Forum, the removable bag is buttoned over the laces, while on the high-top, the sneaker is buttoned onto the ankle collar. Not only was this a clever way to combine the DNA’s of both brands, but it is also a playful addition that will play well on social media. We can already see the Reels or TikTok videos of people pulling ridiculous things out of their pouch.

“The idea to use the Prada pouch was an intuitive ‘must do’ when we sat down to create this hybrid take on the Forum,” explains Beruschi. “When transposed onto the Forum, the pouch enhances the style of the upper with distinction, taking on a new ornamental value beyond its formal nature as a shoe.”

The third Prada x adidas collection is clearly a big step in the partnership’s evolution and, as Beruschi admits, the collaboration has gotten better over time, as the two brands and its respective teams have gotten more used to each other and the processes. The first two sneaker collaborations were important and successful in their own right, but the Forum looks like it could eclipse both.

The co-branded Superstar, while of the utmost quality and a timeless design, didn’t really hit the heights expected when the partnership was first announced. That was more down to the positioning of the Superstar, which was in the midst of an ambitious 50th-anniversary push, than the actual design of the Prada collaboration. The same can be said of the Luna Rossa ’21, whose use in the America’s Cup is incredibly significant but was ultimately overlooked by some members of the sneaker community; mainly due to the price tag, but also because sneakerheads are fickle by nature, and often prefer retro models over anything that could be perceived as too new.

Both sneakers were as well-executed as they could have been. Perhaps the consumers weren’t ready to fully appreciate the Prada x adidas products. Perhaps those that slept on them will be kicking themselves several years down the line. Regardless, the first two collections laid a solid foundation that can be built on. And that’s exactly what the Prada x adidas Forum collection has done.

“As you can see, with each collaborative project, we take our partnership further, building on ideas, concepts, and a shared commitment to forward-thinking progress. Each time, the result is even more next level,” says Beruschi.

The adidas Forum has the potential to change the trajectory of the Prada x adidas collaboration. Like the Superstar, the Forum is a classic sneaker with deep-rooted heritage, however, it’s a model that is perhaps more suited to the tastes of the times. The build is slightly more chunky, and there have been some exciting collaborations and general release moments. More significantly, it’s a model you’re more likely to see scrolling through your timeline than a Superstar, and the longer the model stays in the public’s consciousness, the better the prospects for its success.

The Prada x adidas Forum has everything it needs to set the tone for 2022, not just for adidas, but for the whole footwear industry.

adidas and Prada will release their Forum-led collection on January 13 via Prada boutiques, Prada.com, and adidas.com.

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