You know what people don’t talk much about these days? The sneaker wars. Remember the sneaker wars? Around the middle of last decade, Nike and Adidas were both at the peak of their powers—one Kanye West-sized grenade thrown by Adidas would be met with a Drake-shaped heat-seeking missile by Nike. Kanye even created his own battle cry: Yeezy jumped over the Jumpman. But then the Sneaker Wars went the way of the Harlem Shake and pastry hybrids. All of a sudden, it was over: while Adidas was focusing on working with “creators” like Pharrell, Nike was courting fashion designers at just the right time. But the sneaker wars might be back: barely two weeks into a new decade, Adidas has already put a big trefoil stamp on the 2020s.
Really, is there a better way to clean the slate and start afresh than welcoming weirdo-fashion-influence-extraordinaire Kerwin Frost to star in a campaign dressed as a yeti, hunchback, and egg-headed martian? If there is, maybe it’s an announcement that—FINALLY—the official collaboration with new-guard style icon Jonah Hill is on the way. Or perhaps a well-timed leak that another shoe with fashion insiders’ favorite fashion brand Prada is coming, or that Beyonce’s Ivy Park collection, ported from Topshop to Adidas, is releasing, or that the brand poached Sean Wotherspoon, who designed one of Nike’s most popular shoes of last decade? So, yeah, about that: Sneaker War II is definitely on. (For the record, Bernie Sanders opposes this one and the last one, okay?)
For much of the last decade, Adidas operated similarly to talent agency CAA—scooping up as many people who sniffed the Billboard 100 as it could. But the brand’s collaboration with folks like Big Sean, Rita Ora, and Pusha T failed to make the same impact as Nike’s work with bigger stars like Travis Scott, or even artists like Tom Sachs. (While Adidas did work with designers like Raf Simons and skate brand Palace, work with entertainers made up a majority of their collab portfolio.)
This new stable of collaborators tells us that Adidas is figuring out the right mix for itself. 2020 is two weeks old, and Adidas has announced partnerships with a high-end designer, a beloved cult style icon, a niche fashion influencer, and one of the most famous and adored people in the world. (For the record, that’s Beyonce, although we would also accept Miuccia Prada.) It’s a sniper-rifle, not a shotgun. Because, even though Kerwin Frost might not have a number-one single under his belt or millions of Instagram followers, he brings something that someone like Big Sean doesn’t: fashion bonafides. The same can be said for every other new partner. Jonah Hill isn’t just a famous actor (slash director!), he’s an actor with a dedicated legion of fans who catalog and obsess over his every outfit.
None of this even gets into Adidas’s still-growing Yeezy business, or the fact that Adidas’s most recent financial report, released in November, was rosier than analysts expected. Adidas still has a way to go before it catches up to the Swoosh—2018 full-year revenues were $36.4 billion for Nike and and $24.7 billion for Adidas—but, in 2020, we might actually start talking about sneaker wars again. That’s a start.
Originally Appeared on GQ