By Jackson Dorsey
Nike and Adidas have been regarded as top brands in the sportswear industry for decades, but have trended toward more fashion forward ideas lately, through exclusive collaborations with top designers and brand outreach catered toward notable influencers such as Kanye West, Karlie Kloss, Raf Simmons, and Yohji Yamamoto.
So why the change? Why do sportswear companies who have longstanding roots in athletics, feel the need to appeal to the higher end of fashion?
With the recent addition of the NikeLab, an extension of the Nike brand that has collaborated with the likes of Pigalle, Fragment Design, and Sacai. Nike has put an emphasis on retooling their athletic wear with high fashion taste, a move that has appealed to athletes who desire more than the traditional “gym clothing”.
In a sense, Nike is adding another bracket within fashion – high end athletic wear. Typically, the gym is not a place where fashion advancements are being made. The traditional motive is to further the functionality of athletic wear, providing the wearer with more comfort, while the fashion aspect takes a backseat. Nike, however, has recognized that athletes still value style, and has made an effort to encompass both style and performance with recent advancements and collaborations through NikeLab.
Nike’s biggest competitor, Adidas, has also taken steps to gain recognition in high fashion. Similar to Nike’s NikeLab, Adidas’ Y-3 collection takes a high end approach to athletically influenced product. This past winter Kanye West and Adidas released the Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost, which features boost technology that was initially used for running sneakers. With West’s influence and creativity, Adidas crafted a shoe that featured the comfort of a running sneaker with the fashion appeal of Kim Kardashian, who has been seen wearing the shoes on numerous occasions.
Sportswear companies such as Adidas and Nike have trended toward high end fashion to capture a specific audience of athletes and to capitalize on trends that don’t just occur in the gym. With collaborations featuring fashion icons and designers, these brands have began to make an impact in the fashion industry that has garnered the attention of the highest designers, and perhaps even enough to feature sportswear on the catwalk.