Adidas Trainers Adidas McCartney Adidas Respect MeAdidas is not immune to the growing trend for icon and brand collaboration. Current Adidas collaborations include Adidas and McCartney, Adidas and Yamamoto, Adidas Respect Me (by Missy Elliot – urban sportif apparel), Ali by Adidas (The legendary boxer), Adidas and WE (the urban skate brand), to name but a few.

So what’s in it for the “parent” collaborator, in this case Adidas but we could also point to Reebok, Nike, Puma and others…? The overriding intention is undoubtedly an attempt by the “parent” collaborator to achieve an otherwise unachievable level of “cred” to use the vernacular term. The parent collaborators are invariably ponderous conglomerates managed by men in grey suits who exude as much “cred” as a George Bush/Tony Blair hybrid; simply put the “parent” collaborators are mundane and dull and have a desperate need for a splash of color to give them some credibility with their personality-addicted consumer base — enter the “child” collaborator, usually a hip designer, musician, film star or sports star. Everyone’s happy, the “parent” collaborator gets their desperately needed “cred” and the “child” collaborator receives a truck load of cash and access to an even wider audience — Everybody’s ‘appy! Or are they?

Many knowledgeable fashion commentators are questioning the wisdom of parent and child collaborations. First of all, if a “parent” collaborator hasn’t got enough in-house momentum and self-belief then no amount of celebrity gloss gleaned from the “child” collaborator will hide the cracks. Many commentators are suggesting that the “parent” collaborators stop concentrating purely on the surface of their brand and start peeling back the edges and taking a look at what’s deep inside — it’s called soul-searching: who am “I”, what do “I” stand for and where am “I” going? If a “parent” collaborator hasn’t got the guts to face itself and hopes that temporal collaborations are the answer to their brand’s long-term success, then that brand is ultimately doomed because there can only be so many parent/child relationships before the customer gets wise to the marketing strategy. In addition, the “parent” collaborator will be colored by the “child” collaborate long after the collaboration ends and as we all know the cult-of-celebrity is very fickle and a star today could well be a liability tomorrow — so rather than help paper over the cracks of the “parent” collaborators image the “child” collaborator actually starts to rock its very foundation!

If a brand has true substance, a quality product and an innovative in-house team then it simply doesn’t need to adopt a “child” collaborator. In fact, it just needs to adopt some respect for its true customer base!!!