Adidas and Beyoncé are going to split
Adidas is parting ways with another Black American pop star. This time it’s the indomitable Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, citing “a source close to the situation”, Adidas and Ivy Park “have mutually agreed to part ways”. At this time, who among the two initiated the separation is not known except that it’s mutual. In that THR report, put out hours ago, it is thought that “major creative differences” are the main reason for the 5-year-old collaboration to go no further. Reportedly, Beyoncé is “looking to reclaim her brand, chart her own path and maintain creative freedom.” It is hard to imagine that she was not able keep a grip over what she could do creatively. This would be the second time Mrs Carter is taking things back after her first partnership with Topshop in 2016 ended two years later. Both Adidas and Beyoncé (as well as her Parkwood Entertainment, the company that manages the Ivy Park brand) have yet to comment.
Beyoncé is, of course, not a beacon of controversy like Kanye West is prone to be. Creative differences are not the same as ethical/moral differences. Either way, both are disparities that could potentially impact the kind of sales the two sides hope to achieve. It is not known how well the Ivy Park line was really doing. To us, it’s been a relatively quiet, makes-no-difference-to-the-world label. It caters primarily to die-hard Beyoncé fans who would snap up anything the star puts out. But, dizzyingly high album and concert ticket sales are no indication of the potential of a fashion brand based on celebrity adoration. According to a Wall Street Journal report last month, sales of Ivy Park merchandise “fell more than 50% last year” to about US$40 million (the projected figure was US$250 million). While that may still be a healthy figure, it pales to Yeezy’s reported US$1.8 billion—or 10% of total revenue—that the brand makes for Adidas.
Oftentimes, Ivy Park looked more hype-driven than performance-centric even when the products are produced by Adidas. It is not certain to what extent Beyoncé personally adopted athleisure styles, but if she did, might Ivy Park be what she typically wore? Or are the pieces conceived for meretricious displays at the gym, assuming that is the intended destination. As Oprah Daily put it, Ivy Park “will have you channeling your inner Beyoncé”. Might the problem, if it can be so called, be exactly that? Is there a real, sustainable market of Beyoncé’s off-duty wear, even if they look that sexy? Is that the crux of the creative difference? The popularity of the star’s music does not amount to women wanting to look like her. If it does, Beyoncé’s House of Dereon—“when sidewalk meets catwalk”— wouldn’t have shuttered in 2012 after what was described as a “rocky” six-year run. Beyoncé has not had a enviable track record when it comes creating fashion labels. She is a performer first and designer many rungs down. If Victoria Beckham is still not taken seriously even when she is personally behind her label that now shows in Paris, could there be a chance that Ivy Park would be embraced as a bona fide fashion brand?
Beyoncé started Ivy Park in 2016 as a joint venture with the now-disgraced Phillip Green of Topshop, which reportedly owned exactly half of Ivy Park at the time. The partnership came apart in 2018, amid the reputational and legal woes of Topshop’s parent company Arcadia Group. Mr Green, its billionaire owner and chairman, was accused of “sexual misconduct, bullying, and racial harassment”, according to one 2018 Time report. Parkwood Entertainment subsequently acquired 100 percent of Ivy Park. The value of that transaction was not disclosed. A year later, Adidas X Ivy Park was announced. Terms of that were not made known. The split now came three weeks after Puma announced that they were rekindling their partnership with Rihanna. Ivy Park’s halt, even if temporary, is somewhat ironic given that brands are still banking on sexed-up casual clothing, as evidenced by the upcoming H&M and Mugler pairing. Queen Bey may reign the airwaves, but the rule does not cover the runway.
Illustration: Just So