Hot or not, fashion is a fast-paced industry, but some products don’t just last for a moment, they last for decades.
Look at the feet of people walking by. Browse fashion magazines and blogs. Many people are wearing shoes that are several decades old. Not actually vintage, but some of the shoe models you see were introduced many years ago and are still alive.
One could say that longevity is counter-intuitive in the fast-paced world of fashion where trends come and go – but some products are obviously meant to stay. Why do some survive the course of time while others fall into oblivion? Unless you can look into the future to predict how society, fashion, music and many other factors will evolve, the answer is not that simple. At adidas, we do not have a crystal ball either.
When aiming to create an iconic product, defining outlines, colours or material is the second step. Firstly, think about a reason why the product makes a difference to consumers. Not a marketing babble difference. A real difference. Be honest and ask yourself if the product is a true game changer.
The Superstar truly fulfils these criteria. It was launched as a basketball shoe in 1969. The design was revolutionary for professional basketball players: the ‘rugged rubber toe cap’ protected the toes while the herringbone sole provided the traction to the floor. By the mid-seventies, the Superstar was worn by almost 75% of all basketball pros.
You have to have the right people to endorse a product at the right time. When Run DMC wrote an ode to the ‘Superstar’, influencer marketing was in its baby shoes. Nowadays, brands need to anticipate who the role models and creative minds of the future will be and work with them to inspire consumers.
“The product is to be respected, but the way you launch it should always be fresh,” states Nic Galway, Vice President Design at adidas Originals. When it comes to the Superstar, Pharrell Williams, Rita Ora and David Beckham are only some of many endorsers.
Alfonso Ayala summarises what really elevates a shoe from a product to an icon: “Any brand can dish out an all-red sneaker, give it a catchy name and sell it, but when that sneaker has historical relevancy for the brand it really makes it that much more special. It’s like a moment in time and it’ll always be iconic.”