Posts Tagged ‘would’

Dimension 6 // What Would Drake Moving from Jordan to adidas Look Like?

Last month, only days after All-Star Weekend, the sneaker culture was turned on its head when word got out that Drake may be leaving Jordan Brand to join adidas.

The news was first reported as having potential by Sole Collector, only to be confirmed by our own Nick DePaula that talks were very real.

In the time since, Drake has appeared in Yeezy Season Boots (not adi by definition, but probably not kosher with an active Nike contract) and hopped on an N.E.R.D. track — Champagne Papi’s first time formally working with Pharrell.

So, is this possibility a good one? A great one? A bad one?

We look at the love triangle between Drake, JB and adidas from all angles with a sense of the present, past and possible future.

Recent Bidding Wars

Bidding wars between Nike/JB and adidas over top tier talent is nothing new. Most notably, a shift to some occurred when Kanye West left Nike to sign with adidas in 2013. Ironically enough, the official announcement of Drake to Jordan Brand happened shortly after.

Over the course of the 2000s, we saw adidas lose Kobe to free agency and eventually to Nike. Just the same, tennis star Andre Agassi left his storied signature series with the Swoosh to sign with the Three Stripes. In recent years, Agassi has returned to Nike, helping fuel activations and bringing back original branding to his retro line.

Prior to any Aubrey to adidas talks, fellow Nike Inc. endorsers like Russell Westbrook and Odell Beckham Jr. were courted by the German juggernaut with both staying home in Beaverton.

While OBJ was reportedly close to going to adidas — ultimately staying with Nike for record money — the fact that he did not sign with Adi would assuringly free up lots of potential payroll. This lack of signing has created countermoves in the past, as 50 Cent has said much of his fat deal from Reebok back in ’03 came from money they originally allotted for then high school phenom and eventual Nike signee LeBron James.

Could it be the same for Drake and adidas?

Those Who Jumped from the Jumpman

If Drake were to leave Jordan — seemingly in his prime — he wouldn’t be the first.

Most famously, Dwyane Wade left Jordan Brand in 2012 for Li-Ning when both he and the Heat were as hot as could be. Dwyane Wade

Electing more money, a growing market and equity, the move with more growth for business potential in the Chinese market was still considered surprising considering the weight Jordan’s name still holds in the game and the fact the Dwayne was the first official face of the signature series not named Mike.

Prior to D Wade’s departure, Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss eventually parted ways with Jordan Brand following what looked like a fruitful relationship.

During his early days in Minnesota, Randy received a plethora of PEs as well as turf trainers and his own signature models. Like Wade later, he would leave for a brand of lesser stature but also to play a bigger role (and likely get more money). Moss would become the face of PONY Football.

Family Ties

By most measures, Michael Jordan is a good contact to have and a nice ally in your corner.

While Drake’s official business partnership with JB began in 2013, his relationship with the Jordan family very literally dates back to 2009 when Drake and Lil Wayne played Marcus Jordan’s high school graduation party in Chicago.

A man as popular as Drake is sure to have friends everywhere. Still, most people’s friends aren’t Michael Jordan.

Missed Opportunities & Money Left on the Table


Drake in the Air Jordan 8 “Kentucky Away” OVO PE (photo by Elsa/Getty Images via Zimbio)

Talks suggesting Drake’s rational for potentially leaving Jordan Brand point to wanting more money and more creative control. If true, that makes total sense, and with one should come the other.

Over the last few years with JB, the OVO output has been about one collection per year with Jordan, typically hitting around NBA All-Star Weekend and including two pairs of shoes and corresponding apparel. It’s uncertain whether the limited amount of production and once a year allotment is on Drake’s side to keep the OVO brand boutique or if Jordan controls output ala Nike only allowing Kanye so many Yeezy releases.

Regardless, if less is being put out less is being paid. It would appear as JB has upped production in recent years and Nike, Inc. as a whole is looking to do $ 50 Billion in sales by 2020 that they’d want as many owl stamped releases as possible.

While Jordan Brand has effectively positioned Drake around esteemed models like the Jordan 8, 10 and 12 at retail, one would think that if Aubrey does decide to dip they would miss out monetarily on using his influence to make latter models and apparel pop — both categories for growth and need for backing as far as JB is concerned.

Theoretically, it could work. At 31 years of age, Drake grew up on not only the first round of retro releases but also retirement era models like the 15, 18 and XX1 — all of which he wore on tour in recent years. One would imagine that with the right rollout and OVO tagging that Drake could (or could’ve) introduced said silos to a younger market with less reluctance and more energy.

Drake’s duties with the Raptors and known love of basketball makes him an easy endorser for anything and everything Nike/Jumpman, from customized OVO jerseys that are Swoosh stamped to even more All-Star launches.

The latter would be incredibly fruitful for JB, as the 2019 All-Star Game is set for Mike’s current home of Charlotte only to be followed by his former home of Chicago. Having Drake on board for activations, events and product would be rather key for JB in regards to winning All-Star Weekend.

Legacy Impact

OVO x Air Jordan 8
OVO x Air Jordan 8

From the outside looking in, Drake appears to be in the prime of his career in regards to reach and earning potential — probably a big reason a big bag from adidas looks real good. Still, the OVO motto has been more about the long game and less about YOLO. So, what would leaving Jordan Brand look like for Drake’s legacy?

Using Kanye as a case study — though the two are drastically different in regards to their approach to both branding and creating — leaving Nike for adidas has been a home run at this point. Since joining the Three Stripes, Kanye has seen more creative control and output than with the Swoosh, also earning a contract extension and kickback for making non-Yeezy adi models pop.

One would assume that by leaving JB, Drake would be forgoing the chance for fans at any legacy retro product years down the road. That’s probably true, but not for certain.

While Air Yeezy retros with Kanye endorsement will likely never happen, we did see Nike release the coveted “Rocafella” Air Force 1s through Biggs while Jay Z was getting his tour sponsored by PUMA. If Drake, as opposed to OVO as a collective, were to go to adidas individually, is it possible Oliver or 40 could do the same thing with Jordan down the road?

Just the same, if Drake going to adidas ended up being more a stop on his journey rather than the final destination, we’ve seen Andre Agassi return to the Swoosh to resurrect his retros.

The biggest potential hurdle in regards to legacy/branding would be whether or not Drake would hold onto the trademark OVO black and gold tones if he were to depart to adidas. If he reinvents the OVO palette, there’s a lack of continuity. If the tones are retained, there’s constant comparison to previous work.

So, what happens if he does go?

adidas Opportunities in Lifestyle

While the legacy being built with Drake at Jordan Brand makes more sense than most partnerships and still has room to grow, the possibilities with Drake at adidas are exciting and maybe even endless.

Collaboratively, the elephant in the room appears to be Kanye West and the way they could together amplify the adidas brand, the Yeezy sector and the Calabasas collection.

Drake’s strength as a style icon in comparison to Kanye is far different. Drake’s strength is scale, Kanye’s is creation. If Kanye and Drake were to actually put out the collaborative Calabasas/Wolves project that was teased and acknowledged years ago, the neighbors with competing pools could find themselves swimming in a sea of cash.

How so? Less off Apple Music money and more off tour and merchandise opps. At this point, Drake has toured with Lil Wayne and Future to great success. Outside of a pop act, he won’t find a higher profile name to hit the road with than Kanye West.

While these two names alone could crash Ticketmaster — or the Confirmed App if adidas is really trying to get in with regards to a silly amount of sign ups — the Pablo pop-ups wouldn’t even look populous compared to the chance to turn every stop into Calabasas.

Simply put, if screen printed Gildan tees were flying for $ 60 a pop and flipping for far more, could you imagine the merch they’d make and the coin they’d collect if the official tour gear was actually made by adidas?

While the Kanye catalyst is the most obvious, other talent on the adidas artist roster proves intriguing. Drake working with Pharrell in a music capacity conjures concepts of Champagne Papi spitting a double-time flow on a “Can I Have it Like That” type beat or maybe even Skateboard P producing the dual threat to higher R&B heights. Just the same, Drake wearing Human Race NMDs is a good look for P, Drake and adidas.

Even better, could a deal with adidas see the next installment of 747 Warehouse hosting an I Declare War-esque moment where fan turned foe Drake makes good on stage with Pusha T, ramping up the anticipation for King Push?

Money talks and storylines sell. It appears there’s a lot of noise and narratives that could be made with such a partnership.

adidas Opportunities in Sport

Kanye and Pharrell may have the creative edge on Drake, but Aubrey has them beat on actually having some clout in sport.

While Drake’s roll with the Raptors may be different than the one Master P had, the man does actually hoop, but more so he’s connected to the game as a legitimate fan and friend to many athletes.


Make your own at Fan’s Edge

While Coach Cal exclusives for Kentucky would likely dry up, his relationship with Miami seen in the “God’s Plan” music video could make for some major moments and maybe even some gear opps.

Tying Drake to 747 Warehouse, World Cup, ABCD Camp, All-Star Weekend, or basically anything basketball, football or soccer makes much more sense than their current musical endorsers as the brand continues to blur the line between art and sport.

Would Nike & Jordan Be Okay?

Of course they’d be okay, they’re Nike and Jordan! Still dominating the sales reports despite major growth from adidas, Drake joining the other team would likely be major momentum but far from the beginning of the end in Beaverton.

Though some could say late to the party, Nike, Inc. has been extremely strong in recent years in regards to artist partnerships and signings. Just like Drake releasing his own Forums or popping up in a pair of BAPE Dame 4s would be exciting, we’re already seeing the same shock value with Tyler the Creator releasing his own One Stars and lacing up “Shattered Backboard” 1s and Comme des Garçons Air Max 180s.

Travis Scott x Nike Air Force 1 Low

Just like Jordan had the opportunity to the play the limited game with Drake as a foil to Kanye and adidas’ more mass strategy, Travis Scott’s collaborations with both Nike and JB have a chance to fly out of retailers and fly up on Flight Club just the same.

While Nike, Inc. has lost one humongous star in Kanye West and possibly another in Drake, they have younger and more importantly edgier artists in Tyler, Travis and even Kendrick that may not serve the same scale but resonate deeper with the kids that actually set trends.

Final Thoughts

Due to his job title and earning potential, Drake is still more of a ‘brand’ than you or me, but he’s not a ‘brand’ on the level of Nike or adidas and I mean that with all due respect. He’s a person. A performer. An artist. While staying or moving would be largely financial, it’s still his business and the idea that a person should be attached to a fixed image or product is pretty much bullshit (or more accurately just a contract.)

Just like we’ve seen athletes lose shoe deals or move onto other ones, artists are starting to do the same and designers have been doing it forever. Basically, the idea that one icon will be with one brand their whole career is dated.

So, should Drake stay or should he go?

If he stays with Jordan/Nike, they’re going to have to pay him more to keep him and they’re going to have do more together. Popping up on IG in “History of Flight” 13s or wearing Air Max 270s in a music video isn’t enough to make kids wanna buy a shoe mostly because they’re smarter than we were and also because they don’t feel they’re a part of it. For Drizzy on the Jumpman to thrive, they’re going to have to do deeper storytelling and more releases as cliche as that may sound. Moreover, they’re going to have to get more creative as the market is both odder and more competitive.

If Drake does go to adidas, they won’t be getting the next Kanye from a style standpoint but they will be getting much needed momentum as the Boost wave has started to slow. The opportunities to use Drake as a catalyst to help the brand, their Confirmed App and their activations grow seems much more lucrative for both parties than legacy reasons that would cause him to stay.

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Interview // Willie Esco Talks COOGI x PUMA Clyde Collab & What Biggie Would Be Wearing in 2017

Product photography by Ray Polanco

Willie Esco has been in this game for years. Working on lines for the likes of 2Pac and Nas, the New Jersey native is back at the helm with COOGI and collaborating with his favorite brand, PUMA, on none other than the Clyde.

A fitting tribute to the Notorious BIG, we caught up with Esco on the anniversary of Big’s death and the drop date for this limited edition collab to hear about not only the sweater sneakers but also what Big would be rocking if he were alive today.

Nice Kicks: To start, tell us a little bit about your history with Coogi and roots in the hip-hop fashion world.

Willie Esco: My history with Coogi is a long one. In 2004, I was put in charge of reviving the brand. Around that time I was ending the relationship with Nas and the Willie Esco brand was coming to a close. I also acquired the global licensing rights to Makaveli — 2Pac’s namesake brand that I created. Creatively I wanted to do more. Being the face of Willie Esco on the Latin side and Nas being the face of the brand on the hip-hop/celebrity side sort of took some wear and tear on me. Coogi was unique as well because I could just design clothes and revive a brand that had some legs. The ironic thing was that I was with Coogi and it had the association with Biggie and then I was working with the 2Pac estate! Both were sort of the East Coast version of Elvis and the West Coast version of Elvis in the hip-hop world.

With Biggie, the sweaters were not as popular in ’04 so the connection just wasn’t there yet like it is now. I left my partners in Coogi in ’06 and they took the brand to about $ 80 Million or maybe $ 100 Million and then around 2012-13 they told me to come back in to help with Etonic. I didn’t know footwear as well as my son does, but I told them I’d only come on if they allowed me to also work with Coogi.

I saw Coogi as the premier, luxury streetwear brand. They sort of kept their position because everything is sort of frozen in time because of Biggie. I knew the collaborations would come. We started with Rag & Bone and then my goal was to go for the top three — adidas, Nike and PUMA. Selfishly I wanted to attack those brands because my son is heavy into footwear and the collaboration process allowed him to see how to solicit the big brands. I worked with Dwayne Edwards in mentoring my son and a former colleague of mine was at PUMA. We started talking, I hooked him up with Dwyane and I knew 2017 would be a big year. His timing was perfect. I think they understood timing and footwear cycles and being able to capitalize off this space and let me translate it into a shoe. The PUMA Clyde program was originally going to be focused just on Brooklyn, but as we started talking it morphed into a bigger thing because of how celebrated Big is. The one thing that I was super specific on was that every pair had to be different — the left and the right — so that every pair is unique. They ultimately used it in the marketing and every pair is different which is a hard thing to do in footwear these days.

Nice Kicks: When you look at the collab, the Clyde represents NY in the ’70s and the COOGI represents Biggie in the ’90s. How does this shoe appeal to the modern day New Yorker?

Willie Esco: I think the two speak for the two times and I sort of fill the gap. I’m the ’80s and I don’t think the PUMA people believe me, but my favorite shoe actually is the Clyde. Every year around Final Four time I get a pair of all-white Clydes for my birthday to watch the Championship Game. That’s total ’80s to me. Growing up, I didn’t want to be the guy wearing adidas because that was Queens. In turn, let me claim PUMA for Jersey as a breakdancer which was a hard thing to do.

So when working on the shoe, I looked at the experimentation from Missoni and Converse was doing, which nothing was mismatched, so I wanted to bring uniqueness because the footwear game is in a place where it’s really hard to get excited about shoes. So, understanding what was being done with the he Missoni x Converse collab which is brilliant, us doing it at the street level brought a new twist. The millennial wants to be taken back to the ’90s and somebody wants to indirectly channel Biggie. This is a cool way to do that just like buying a pair of Jordans makes you think you can jump higher or putting on a Coogi makes you think you’re from Brooklyn or you can rap. I think we achieved that and I think PUMA did an excellent job of that. Now Diddy is posting about it and it’s a really great day.

Nice Kicks: When looking back at Biggie, what made him the fashion guy we still love and respect today?

Willie Esco: At that time, there were not too many brands servicing the urban consumer and going up to 3x and 4x in apparel. Designers that were ready to do that had success with their own brands. The savviness of Biggie to be aspirational and go into the store and go, “What makes this sweater expensive?” Simply, labor and knitting time. The boldness of a designer putting it out there and saying it’s not a mistake is brilliant. So Coogi putting it out there and Biggie finding a brand that fits his colorful nature and his size? It’s pretty unique in that if you wear a Coogi sweater people know you spent money on that thing. It’s similar to what Dapper Dan was doing, but Coogi was unique in that you could see who was wearing it from a mile away. Coogi was unique and I think Biggie picked up on that.

The gifted nature of his ability to rap made him standout as well and be able to be depreciating about himself and make that a positive. Rap has always accepted being chubby and then you had a rapper that was bigger, fatter and not scared to talk about it and explain how he liked to splurge on himself in the most expensive of things like Versace, Coogi and Moet. Those things still have to be attainable by the culture and not everything was attainable at that time.

Nice Kicks: We’re both mourning and celebrating Biggie’s life as he passed 20 years ago today. If Biggie was still around today, what do you think he’d be wearing?

Willie Esco: I think he’d age gracefully. The closest thing we have to Biggie today is Jay-Z. They both influenced each other, so if you look at what Jay’s wearing and what Jay’s wearing I think that’s what Big would be wearing and doing. I think he’d get on a health kick like Rick Ross and slim down. So a lot of the elements of the guys that are doing it big now, you take those pieces and that’s what Big would do. If he got to that point, I think he’d be a little more conscious about his health, he’d probably be looking at brands and art and developing his empire. As you get older you naturally gravitate to more classic things — it’s just the nature of the beast. He wouldn’t being wearing leggings, he wouldn’t be wearing tight stuff and I don’t think he’d be wearing Yeezys. I think he’d have a deal with Timberland, he’d have collaboration deals and he’d be celebrating 20 years of his Life After Death album. I think luxury brands would have a ball with him and he may be spearheading the resurgence of Coogi or Iceberg. I definitely believe Brooklyn Mint would’ve been a big brand, too. They would’ve gone away and then they would’ve had a resurgence. I think ultimately he’d be a billionaire and growing his empire in the way Jay is.

Nice Kicks: Every weekend a ton of sneakers drop and collaborations are more frequent than they’ve ever been. What makes the Coogi x PUMA Clyde a piece of history and a fashion statement today and here on out?

Willie Esco: The patience and timing that went into this project. The intimateness of who we rolled it out to and how selective we were about who got it and why they got it. They’re very limited because at Coogi we can only rollout X amount of product over X amount of time. I had to warn PUMA about how careful we had to be to make this happen. I want the consumer to know how much that went into planning this thing to make it come out on the day that it came out.

I’m a very lucky designer because I’m a designer that has worked indirectly with Biggie and Pac on their collections and collaborations. I think the consumer needs to appreciate why I did this, the connection to Brooklyn and the storytelling. That’s one important thing in collaboration and storytelling is that we’re losing what’s taken for granted. Collaborations just aren’t special anymore but this one is special because my son is involved in the project and we’re digging deep with pushing the concept of Biggie and a Coogi shoe. Knowing that knit shoes are being done nowadays, but this is a throwback to the ’90s with bulky sweater material on a shoe. It’s not an easy thing and one bad move and we could’ve missed the whole thing. It’s really exciting for me because I just had the idea and it went to my favorite brand and that’s what makes it special for me. When it’s special for the designer it comes out that way to the consumer.

The COOGi x Puma Clyde launched today at select retailers such as at PUMA Lab powered by Foot Locker, KITH, Jimmy Jazz, Barneys and Nice Kicks LA. Keep up with Willie on IG.

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