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Can innovative collaborations shift brand perceptions in sports and fitness?

by Thompson Brand Partners

In every market, brand collaborations (not just sponsorship) are becoming a mainstay of awareness and revenue growth activities as businesses look for partners who can help them to reach new audiences, gain market share and say something new about themselves.

In the sports industry, with its rich history of sponsorship deals and brand ambassadorship, we’re seeing more and more interesting apparel collaborations. Sports brands are continuing to work with artists, pop stars, and wellbeing initiatives, riding high on the continuing ‘athleisure’ trend and increased health and fitness activities of the general population.

Many of these brand collaborations are designed to empower women, champion diversity, and push people to feel confident in their own skin. Selling the idea of having no fear against the world is big news.

Here are seven collaborations we’re watching:

Puma x Fenty

  • Image credit: Vogue

    For those that don’t know, Fenty is Rihanna’s fashion line. She recently teamed up with Puma to design a collection of clothing. This line of merchandise is purely inspired by racing and will be launched as a Spring/Summer collection.

    This line reaches different markets, both of the contributors, high status people/brands. Her collection has a reputation for selling out within hours. Talk about brand collaboration at its finest?

    Puma and Rihanna keep things real, continuing to champion the diversity of women through her work. Due to the major success of Rihanna’s collaboration with Puma, it paved the way for Kylie Jenner to sign a deal with Puma for her collection of sneakers, Fierce.

    Nike x Kelly Anna

  • Image credit: kellyannalondon.com

    London based print designer, Kelly Anna, teamed up with Nike to design their latest Free Run shoe. She is an inspiration to women empowerment movements and brands all around the world; even Beyoncé wanted to work with her. The collaboration between Nike and Kelly started a few years back, pretty naturally. She has a few friends that work at the Nike HQ in Portland, Oregon and sent three sketchbooks over.

    While living in London, she goes running at least 5-6 times a week. It seemed like a no brainer to get Kelly Anna to collaborate with Nike on the design and launch of the new Free Run. Within the first week of the launch, both the women’s and men’s shoe sold out in all sizes.

    This collaboration will help position Nike as a forward thinking, innovative company that is trying to do something a little bit more creative and ‘out of the box’. For Kelly Anna, this means a call from everyone and their mother.

    Adidas x Wanderlust

  • Image credit: Wanderlust.com

    Adidas recently collaborated with Wanderlust and designed a yoga collection made from recycled plastic. Wanderlust is a purpose driven company, championing and training the next generation of yoga teachers and yogis. The ocean inspires the design of each item. The collection includes 42 pieces designed just for women.

    Senior Director of Adidas’ Women’s, Alison Stewart commented, “We know our community of women are extremely passionate about environmental care. Now, in our product, they can make a difference to their practice and the planet at the same time.”

    The collaboration between these two brands not only inspires women, but people and brands in general to pay a little more attention to what they consume and purchase. Due to Adidas having such a high profile, it helps bring a massive awareness to the issue and a lot more brand awareness for Wanderlust as a company.

    Topshop & Beyoncé – Ivy Park

  • Image credit: ivypark.com

    When two brand powerhouses come together like Topshop and Beyoncé, the world knows it’s going to be great, or at least expects it to be nothing but. The thinking behind Beyoncé’s, Ivy Park line, is one of inspiration. Beyoncé commented on the partnership stating that she, “wanted to create an athletic brand that would support and inspire women.”

    For Topshop this meant sold out merchandise and website crashing due to so much web traffic of customers trying to get their hands on a piece of Beyoncé’s line. In the words of The Drum, “the Ivy Park range broke Topshop’s website.” There is no doubt that in this collaboration of brands, there was nothing but success.

  • Image credit: Fashionista.com

    Victoria has joined forces with Reebok and … Shaquille O’Neal! Some people within the fashion industry are calling it an unlikely fashion collaboration, but I think there’s a little bit of genius behind it. More recently, it seems as though nostalgia branding has been on the rise, this collections design having been inspired by the 90’s era. The era in which Shaq and Victoria were huge names. The collection is really a celebration of Reebok’s rich history and heritage.

    The 90’s icons got together and talked about their favourite era; the dislikes and the loves. This ultimately inspired Victoria’s unisex athletic wear collection with Reeboks longtime brand ambassador, Shaquille O“Neal.

    Victoria’s comment on the 90’s:

    “Even the bad stuff makes you smile, it takes you back to a time when music was good, everything was good, that’s why I’m so excited to work with Reebok,” Beckham said.

    Reebok has a history of partnering with women that inspire confidence, power and strength through their collections. And they just hit the nail on the head with teaming up with Victoria Beckham.

  • Image credit: Underarmour.com

    When Misty Copeland and Under Armour teamed together, it opened doors for many and broke down long standing stigma around women of color and ballet. Who is Misty Copeland? She is the first African American to be named as principal ballerina for American Ballet theatre. Misty is proof that passion and dedication can break down personal barriers. Through this collaboration, it opened doors for many and started championing diversity.

    By coming together, it helps position Under Armour as a brand that cares. For Misty, it means she gets to break down the barriers and stereotypes that tend to go with the world of dance and ballet. The campaign that they worked on together was named, I Will What I Want .

  • Image credit: Highsnobiety.com

    When Kappa decided to collaborate with Faith Connexion, it made the decision to shift from a standard athletic brand to a high street brand. Faith Connexion is an iconic Italian Sports label that has been around since 2004. Rihanna played a major part in shedding some high street light on this now iconic label and seems to do with many emerging labels. FC brings not only a sports angle but also a nostalgia angle, giving it that much more edge and like-ability.

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