In celebrity/KOL-sports brand pair-ups, taste and talent are unimportant
Kylie Jenner giving Adidas a Calabasas spin. Photo: Adidas Originals
By Mao Shan Wang
Kylie Jenner may not be as major as sister Kendall in the modelling business, but she is big in her own right and bigger still as a cosmetic seller, more so after being named by Forbes as the youngest near-billionaire (USD999 million is how much she’s worth, as reported) on its yearly ranking of America’s wealthiest “self-made” (controversial in the case of Kylie Jenner) women. I don’t know about you, but that sounds very much like success, which makes her decamping Puma for Adidas, where her sister is already the latter’s face, quite a puzzler.
“So excited to announce that I am officially an Adidas ambassador,” she boasted via Instagram stories recently. Nothing more was said. Two sisters for one brand is quite a lot. I don’t think Kylie Jenner is doing it for money—she’ll make more through her wholly-owned company Kylie Cosmetics. I don’t think it is about fame—the still-successful reality TV show with her family ensures that, as well as her IG following which numbers 114 million to date (versus Kendall Jenner’s paltry 94.7 million). I don’t think it’s about power—since the Forbes cover story broke, she isn’t lacking in that either.
What could it be then?
The Kylie Jenner-endorsed dad-ish Adidas Falcon soon to be released. Photo: Adidas Originals
Fore sure, I do not know. So, I am guessing here: It’s a cultural thing, a Calabasas thing, even a cheap thing! Cultural because the people of her ilk and tribe are all trying to be designers or faces of brands, whether they have this other thing called talent or not. Some are, of course, more successful than others, but that’s not important. Rather, it’s vital that you get your foot across the threshold and the Jenner sure have. Their half-brother-in-law only succeeded after many (news-making) attempts. It’s a Calabasas thing because in this lian town of southern California, people dress in a certain conspicuous way and they think the rest of the world wants to dress like them too, so much so that the name of the town appears on Yeezy apparel and attendant knock-offs. It’s a cheap thing because it costs the Jenners virtually nothing to get into the fashion business as almost everyone is clamouring to collaborate with them, which validates the power of association than the strength of talent.
Adidas, of course, loves working with non-talents. While they have teamed up with fashion mavericks such as Kolor’s Junichi Abe and corporate darlings such as Raf Simons, they have also paired with style-dubious Rita Ora with quite frankly dreadful results. In the case of choosing Kylie Jenner as the face (and body) of the brand, it is possible that Adidas is fulfilling Kanye West’s wish. Remember his now-deleted rant: “There will never be a Kylie Puma anything. 1000% Kylie is on Yeezy team!!!”? It isn’t hard to see that what Adidas mainly wants is her social media reach and her propensity to live her life publicly. They are happy to feature Kylie Jenner as she is, and she is happy to be as she is, complete with over-drawn brows and over-painted lips. Predictable? Yes, I know.