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

Prada and Adidas have new cooperation built on a “fusion of fashion and performance,” the two companies revealed on Nov. 9. Their aim is to blend Prada’s prowess in leather goods and luxury with Adidas’s expertise in sports. The first products of the collaboration will be “two limited-edition Prada for Adidas styles” – presumably sneakers, as has been rumored among sneaker sites for several weeks – releasing in December.

The deal puts the two brands in a position to capitalize on the blurring lines between the high-end world and other realms of fashion, notably activewear 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. The partnership will also focus on Prada’s Luna Rossa sailing team, established in 1997.