Yesterday’s announcement that Jerry Lorenzo would be leaving Nike to join adidas as the creative and business head of its basketball subdivision sent shockwaves through the sneaker community. Not only was a huge name in fashion switching sides — as Kanye had done before him and Drake almost did in 2018 — it also created a sense of intrigue among sneakerheads and basketball fans alike.
The big questions are whether Lorenzo can lift adidas Basketball out of its relative hype and style obscurity and what he can bring to the table. While it’s way too early to tell, Lorenzo’s appointment is exciting, because it sees a lifelong basketball fan with elite fashion expertise be given a chance to shake things up on the performance side.
Below, we’ve outlined several benefits we believe Lorenzo will immediately bring to adidas Basketball, and what the future could hold for the subdivision should the appointment prove to be the success adidas, Lorenzo, and many sneakerheads hope it will be.
High profile and sought-after collaborations have been a recipe for success in the sneaker world for well over a decade. It’s a strategy Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God is no stranger to, having teamed up with Vans, Nike, and Ermenegildo Zegna over the past few years alone. Nike Basketball has shown that it’s a sure-fire way to create hype around certain products, as evidenced by the Spongebob Squarepants-themed pack of Kyrie Irving’s signature sneaker, or some of Kevin Durant’s most popular collaborative projects.
adidas Basketball has made attempts — some more successful than others — at its own collaboration strategy. Pharrell Williams has reworked some basketball silhouettes, Damian Lillard’s signature sneaker was reworked by BAPE, and a Marvel Avengers-themed pack was dropped. Overall, though, the good collaborations have been few and far between. Lorenzo’s experience in the field and his pulling power could change that going forward, which is one of the most exciting aspects of this new partnership.
This brings us right to the second point, which is that Lorenzo’s status in the fashion industry makes him someone just about everyone wants to work with — especially the young crop of athletes who are becoming more and more interested in fashion. With Lorenzo at the helm, adidas Basketball will have an allure which it hasn’t had in a long time. The subdivision will potentially be able to attract higher-caliber stars to sign endorsement deals, and will be able to partner with brands for both on-court and off-court collections that it otherwise may not be able to attract without Lorenzo.
The gravitational force that is Lorenzo is only one part of the benefits. The other part is that his creative vision and knowledge of the fashion industry will allow him to identify the right partners for adidas Basketball at the right time.
Jerry Lorenzo knows basketball, being a big fan himself, but he’ll likely also be coming at his new role from a finely-tuned fashion perspective, which almost guarantees an instant aesthetic upgrade. Regardless of your feelings on adidas Basketball shoes, jerseys, and apparel, Lorenzo has the potential to make less popular products more appealing, and good products even more popular.
adidas Basketball products already have a very good reputation when it comes to performance. Pair that with a new, stylish aesthetic and the aforementioned improved collaboration strategy, and it’s hard to imagine a world where adidas Basketball doesn’t immediately see an uptick in popularity.
This last section really depends on the goals and direction adidas wants to take its basketball subdivision in under Lorenzo, as most of its product is geared towards performance. But if there’s one thing that’s important in a streetwear and sneaker context, it’s that products are also worn off of the court.
This is where Lorenzo’s experience with Fear of God (and even his collections with Nike) comes into play. The designer has the experience and portfolio to lead the subdivision’s foray off the court and establish an aesthetic that gives performance shoes, jerseys, and apparel a second life in a more casual, style-focused setting.
Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan line is the obvious (and likely unattainable) example, though it underlines the importance of having a wide range of products and a certain level of fashion and street credibility. If there’s anyone who can establish that kind of off-court appeal, it’s got to be Jerry Lorenzo.