The Growing Importance of Artists & Lifestyle Influencers in Footwear
Michael Jordan had a big impact on the footwear industry. You can say that he revolutionized it and completely changed the landscape of how sneakers were marketed and sold. He transcended the world of sports and became an international fashion icon with the help of his Air Jordan line, as well as his trademark Jumpman logo.
The Air Jordan line saw immense success as a performance product, but it also began tapping into the lifestyle market as people were wearing their Jordan shoes not only on the court, but on the streets as well. This had every other footwear company scrambling to find their own MJ throughout the 90s and early-2000s.
We have seen a rising emphasis on the importance of artists and lifestyle influencers in sneakers, as athletes began taking a backseat in the footwear industry. Run-DMC and their contribution to this movement cannot be understated, as they hold a special place in history with what they did with adidas and the Superstars.
Some may say that the Artist’s Series collection by Nike featuring the likes of Futura, Stash, Pharrell, and ESPO was vital to this shift in the industry. Some may say that this shift occurred when Jay-Z and 50 Cent got their own signature lines at Reebok, the S. Carter and the G-Unit. There will always be those who say that nothing mattered until Kanye released his first signature silhouette with Nike.
Regardless of what catapulted this change in the influence within the footwear industry from athletes to artists, all that matters is that the change did happen. When Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Kanye received their signature line from Reebok and Nike, it was a very big deal to those who remember those years. Jay-Z and Kanye were the first non-athletes to get their own signature shoes at their respective brands.
Throughout this decade, we have seen many artists collaborating with different brands to help usher in this new age of sneaker culture that we are now in the midst of. We saw adidas working with artists such as Big Sean and 2 Chainz on classic silhouettes during their pre-Boost era, followed by their introduction of Kanye and Pharrell’s signature series during their Boost era.
Jordan Brand is very well represented with Drake and his ever-popular OVO collection. Reebok has made a concentrated effort in gaining back traction within the lifestyle market with Kendrick Lamar and Future on their roster. adidas not only has Kanye and Pharrell on their roster, they also work with Pusha T on their EQT line and Desiigner on their XbyO line.
PUMA is one of the brands that is truly embracing this shift towards influential artists and it is safe to say that their hard work paid off. The Fenty by Rihanna collection is one of the best-selling collaborations on the market, and they also made a big splash with the signing of The Weeknd, who will be receiving his own signature XO collection. In addition to The Weeknd and Rihanna, they also have some of the most influential style icons, Kylie Jenner and Big Sean, as faces for some of their other campaigns.
It has been truly amazing to see the shift of influence in the sneaker industry and to witness the transformation of the culture from what it was many years ago. Call them musicians or singers, but at the end of their day, they are artists and these footwear designs can be seen as an extension of their artistic craft.
Featured Image: Instagram/@PUMA
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Jonathan Kim is a freelance writer, content creator, and the Social Media Manager for The Brag Affair, a Canadian sneaker and lifestyle blog for creative sneakerheads from all throughout the country.