Who is Streetwear King?

graphic by Gavin Fukawa

Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman… sorta? The classic question of Adidas or Nike has been posed by everybody and anybody, not just the streetwear world. The tale of the tape today, however, will be comparing these two powerhouse brands in terms of streetwear. Let’s break down the argument to see which brand reigns supreme in 2017 and will continue to do so in 2018.

Collaborations

It seems that these days in the streetwear world, any collaboration with any decent artist or fashion brand will sell out faster than you can say “hypebeast sellout.” The good news for Nike is that they have recently collabed with some of the most hyped and highly reputable brands, most notably Off-White. Trust me, this is enough to get even the smallest hypebeast in you ready to spend.

For example, take the Off-White Jordan 1 — it sounds crazy and looks the part too. The Jordan 1, arguably the most timeless and perfectly executed shoe, gets what I call the “Virgil Abloh Treatment.” By adding the Off-White designer’s personal touches to the staple of streetwear shoes, a masterpiece is born. In fact, it was recently named Shoe of the Year by Footwear News. According to StockX, a popular sneaker reselling site, the shoe can go for anywhere between $1600-$1800. Nike and Off-White continue to collaborate and are soon releasing 5 more of these types of shoes (including the Air Max 97 and Air Force Low) that will garner the same amount of hype. Other notable collabs include an Air Force 1 experimentation in which names like Travis Scott, Don C, and Acroynm will be spinning their own version of the sneaker and will release them later this year. Nike also has a history of Supreme shoes like the“Suptempos” that released last Fall/Winter season.

photo credit NiceKicks.com

photo credit @DropsbyJay

On the other hand, Adidas has had their fair share of collaborations as well. Two of their more notable collaborations include Palace and Raf Simons. Palace, a well established UK skate brand, has been an Adidas’ “go-to” when it comes to hypebeast collaborations. Unfortunately, their shoes and clothing pieces just haven’t lived up to the hype. Almost every season, you can find a week where these two brands get together, but most of the time is a disappointment. For example, Palace’s Fall/Winter drop on Oct. 27th, 2017 featured a shoe with extremely awkward colorways and a silhouette that was trying to be futuristic but ultimately fell short. Overall, the execution of many of their items just don’t appeal to many buyers despite the popularity of both brands as seen by nonexistent reselling prices.

The other more noticeable brand Adidas has collaborated with is high fashion brand Raf Simons. Raf Simons has taken hip hop culture by storm, especially the Ozweego shoe line that Adidas makes. However, the Balenciaga Triple S, a similar high fashions sneaker, recently took the spotlight away from the Ozweegos, pushing them out of the sneaker scene. In addition, at such a high retail price of $500, only people who have that kind of money (such as the Migos and A$AP Rocky) can afford these sneakers. There is no high reselling price because the sneakers never sell out.

photo credit StockX.com and HighsNobiety.com

The Verdict: Nike by a mile. In terms of strength of brands they collaborate with, reselling prices, and execution, Nike takes the cake easily.

Oversaturation

The quickest and fastest way to lose hype is to oversaturate the market with a particular shoe. The more you add to the market, the cheaper the price will be as it becomes more common. When it comes to releasing shoes, the same idea rings true. As a company, Adidas doesn’t make money by releasing only 500 pairs of a shoe. However, to the reselling market, the shoe becomes extremely rare and prices skyrocket. Adidas has had a reputation of re-releasing these shoes or creating new colorways so they can make more money, but then the reselling market suffers.

photo credit kicksonfire.com

Brands must find a perfect balance to keep everyone happy about a rare shoe, but also to make a justifiable margin on a release. Two shoes Adidas ultimately lost a huge streetwear market to are the Ultra Boosts and NMD’s. In my opinion, the Ultra Boost 1 was arguably the best model to ever come from Adidas. Not only did it kick off a trend for many other Boost sneakers, it’s a sleek yet comfortable shoe that could be worn in any time of the year. But then came the different colorways, then the uncaged version, then the 2nd model, and the 3rd, and now we are on the Ultra Boost’s 5th Model and counting. From an instant sellout and resell prices of $500 to shelf-sitting and overdone, it’s a shame that this shoe fell off the map so quickly.

Perhaps the most shameful of all was the oversaturation of the Adidas NMD line. Their OG colorway kicked off what seemed like a shoe line almost on par with Yeezys. Adidas started slow with their releases and garnered immense amounts of hype, including a collaboration with fashion icon and artist Pharrell Williams, but then came the downfall. Colorway after colorway after new versions after re-releases started to emerge. With exception of a few OG colorways, the Kith and Bape collaboration, and the Pharrell Human Race line, every other NMD is a dime a dozen.

photo credit @ShoeArmy

The Verdict: Adidas will never be as prevalent in the sneaker game unless they find a formula to balance their quantity of release and hype. The crown will never be theirs unless they fix this issue.

 

Signings

Celebrities and artists sign with these two companies all the time, but which one is better? These are essentially collaborations, but with one person rather than another brand. Nike most notably has Jordan, which is essentially its own entity in itself. In addition, they recently had Travis Scott sign with them and Drake has deals with Jordan (Not to mention Converse’s recent collaboration with Tyler, The Creator). It is true that Adidas has surpassed Jordan in terms of sales, but they are nowhere near Nike as a whole. Still, up until recently, Jordan has been one of the most predominant sneaker lines ever. Forget the whacky colorways and retros that don’t do the originals justice, let’s just focus on the shoes that put Jordan on the map and keep them relevant.

photo credit solecollector.com

As mentioned above, the Jordan 1 is a shoe that will never go out of style. Since these only release so often, Nike makes sure that their retros are done right and only with the best colorways. Two more shoes that aren’t regarded as a “good Jordan shoe” have gained a lot of attention because of deals with artist Kaws and rapper Drake. Drake’s OVO 12’s are a modern rendition of an outdated silhouette. The Kaws 4 is a step above this. This bulky shoe was retroed with a touch of Kaws; it has a suede, grey body with an icy transparent sole, along with a hefty price of $1,470 on StadiumGoods.com. Nike definitely knows who is popular and what will translate into a great shoe.

photo credit kicksonfire.com

Now which celebrity stars use Adidas as their main form of collaboration? The first is obviously Kanye West. After moving to Adidas from Nike, his Yeezy Boost 350’s kicked off probably the most famous hype shoe of all time. From its limited quantities to the unique silhouette to the insane amount of hype during their releases, the Yeezy Boost is the epitome of the hypebeast sneaker. Recently, Kanye has come out with other Yeezy lines including the Powerphase, the WaveRunner, and the Desert Rat, all which are set to come out with new colorways later this year along with four new colorways for the Yeezy Boost V2. It is undeniable that this has been Adidas’s golden star and one of the only reasons Adidas stays relevant in the shoe game. I mentioned earlier that Pharrell Williams is also signed under Adidas and focuses on the NMD shoe. What was an already strange shoe turned into something even crazier with Williams’s Human Race silhouette. Nonetheless, the shoe was tremendously popular and continues to resell at a high price.

photo credit above Pinterest.com, below sneakernews.com

The Verdict: While both brands are able to execute great shoes with great celebrities, the longstanding history of Jordan gives Nike a slight edge in the streetwear category. A comeback of classic and vintage silhouettes paired with huge hip-hop figures makes an unbeatable combination.

So there we have it, the answer is Nike. TL;DR (too long, didn’t read):

Nike is king because of their collaborative power, balance of hype and stock, and celebrity signings.

Sorry Kanye, you’ll need to jump a little higher to take over Nike as the don of streetwear.

photo credit yournewswire.com

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