Prada and Adidas team up to capitalize on the blurring of sportswear and luxury

A promotional image shows a Prada bag with two Adidas sneaker boxes sticking out the top

Prada and Adidas have a new partnership built on a “fusion of fashion and performance,” the companies revealed today. The aim, they say, is to blend Adidas’s expertise in sport with Prada’s prowess in leather goods and luxury. The first products from the collaboration will be “two limited-edition Prada for adidas styles”—presumably sneakers, as has been rumored among sneaker sites for a few weeks—releasing in December.

The deal puts Prada and Adidas in a position to capitalize on the blurring lines between the luxury world and other realms of fashion, notably activewear (Quartz member exclusive) and streetwear. For Prada, it’s an opportunity to expand the casual, sporty “lifestyle” offering it’s been working on to attract new customers. Adidas, which has a history of collaborating with designers, gets to bolster its image as a creative, fashion-forward brand.

Items such as sneakers and sportswear have lately helped Prada, a company built mostly on high-end leather goods. The company had struggled for a few years, during which it seemed to ignore luxury’s turn toward sneakers and casual clothes while its big rivals were cashing in. In theory it should have been perfectly positioned for the shift, as it was among the first luxury brands to introduce a sneaker back in 1996. The following year, it debuted Linea Rossa, a line of technical sportswear. But it eventually pulled Linea Rossa from stores in 2010 and kept its focus on products such as handbags to drive sales.

More recently, it has increased focus on what it calls its “lifestyle” offering, such as the Cloudbust sneaker it released in 2017. Last year, it began to show signs of a turnaround, and announced the relaunch of Linea Rossa, partnering with streetwear-centric site Highsnobiety to help sell the line. On a call with investors in March, the company said its lifestyle collection was outperforming other segments.

Adidas, meanwhile, has used collaborations with some of fashion’s top designers, including Raf Simons, Rick Owens, and Stella McCartney, to help it cultivate its air of cool over the past several years. These products release in limited quantities, but they let Adidas reach beyond a sports audience and help it determine where there’s demand for larger releases. The 1990s-era Ozweego silhouette it successfully reintroduced as a general release recently was one of the shoes Simons pulled from Adidas’s archive to rework for his line with the company, for instance.

The press release for the new Adidas-Prada tie up indicates more classic styles from each will feature in the collaboration. It “draws inspiration from the rich legacies of both to re-engineer timeless icons,” it says, adding they have “begun to explore their monumental archives.” The first two styles to be released will be available for men and women, and they’ll have a luxury pedigree: Prada is making them entirely in Italy.

The partnership will also focus on Prada’s Luna Rossa sailing team, established in 1997. “At its zenith, this collective effort will result in the release of the new Luna Rossa performance sailing footwear, to be unveiled in 2020,” the companies said.





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