Cardi B is partnering with Reebok.
The 26-year-old artist, who has attracted fans and followers with her outsize personality and chart-topping music, will promote Reebok’s Aztrek sneaker, a silhouette from the Nineties that retails for $100 and falls in line with the “dad shoe” trend. She will also push some of Reebok’s apparel, which started to pop up on her Instagram feed last month.
“For us, she really is emblematic of what our brand has done well over the years and that is to be bold, provocative and uninhibited,” said Matthew O’Toole, Reebok’s president. “If we look at some of the things we’ve done with Allen Iverson or being the first to sign musicians, or more recently with Kerby [Jean-Raymond] of Pyer Moss, when we are at our best we are with people who are comfortable living out loud and Cardi fits that.”
O’Toole wasn’t forthcoming about the details of the deal, but said this starting point is a canvas to create more and there are plans to feature Cardi B in campaigns and connect her personal style with some of the products the brand develops.
Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, has partnered with brands including Fashion Nova — she will release a capsule collection with the company on Nov. 15; Steve Madden; Tom Ford, and the public recently found out she turned down a collaboration with Diesel. But her deal with Reebok marks one of her bigger corporate alliances and her arrival as a global pop star with bankability.
Reebok was the first athletic brand to partner with hip-hop artists including Jay-Z, Pharrell and Future, on their own footwear lines. The brand has also worked closely with female artists including Missy Elliott, Eve and Queen Latifah. Todd Krinsky, general manager of Reebok Performance, previously told WWD that the strategy has shifted from celebrities creating their own sub-brands and silhouettes to celebrities bringing attention to Reebok’s iconic sneaker models.
For the past few years, Reebok has made a big push into the women’s market signing deals with more women than men. The company has brought on ambassadors including Gigi Hadid, Gal Gadot, Ariana Grande and Danai Gurira. According to O’Toole, more than 40 percent of its business comes from female consumers.
“For us, we are trying to bring together a group that’s really representative of our consumer and I feel like we’ve brought a number of amazing women together and they are all contributing to our story,” said O’Toole. “We probably won’t be signing on more women at the same pace because we feel good about where we are.”
Reebok, which is owned by Adidas, is focused on the North American market where sales rose 6 percent in the second quarter despite store closures. Adidas chief executive officer Kasper Rorsted said the business has had very strong progress and should return to profitability by 2020.
He added the company has been positioning the brand in the fitness category, noting consumers had been unclear whether it fit into the fashion category, but a partnership with Victoria Beckham, this deal with Cardi and its recent campaigns that feature influencers ranging from stylists to vintage resellers, are helping clarify Reebok’s stake in fashion and fitness.