NEW YORK — Hip-hop artist Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, who often dresses in Adidas for her videos and award shows, is taking her relationship with the German athletic giant to the next level. The firm is set to announce a deal today with Elliott for a signature fashion collection, which will debut in stores this September.
The three-time Grammy winner is slated for an appearance at the Adidas Original store in SoHo to give details of the new collection, which includes a range of sport-inspired women’s apparel, accessories and footwear, WWD has learned. Adidas executives declined to divulge specifics except to say the line blends “Adidas’ street history and sporting styles with Missy Elliott’s personality, flare and original style.”
Elliott joins a string of female musicians who have launched their own fashion collections in recent years, including Eve, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez and Thalia, and the pack is growing fast. Beyoncé is at work on a signature line, and Ashanti is also rumored to be launching her own collection. At the same time, as the line between sports and entertainment continues to blur, athletic companies are reaching out to musicians to connect with the 18-to-30-year old audience. Reebok has been among the most active in this area, and now has licensing deals with musicians including Pharrell Williams, G-Unit and Jay-Z.
Elliott’s line will fall under the Adidas Originals banner, which is the German company’s sport and street fusion brand. A prolific musician who is known to be a flashy dresser and sometimes outlandish performer, Elliott has long been a fan of Adidas. She is also no stranger to the fashion world, having appeared in marketing campaigns for brands such as Garrard, Sprite and Reebok, as well as the Gap campaign last spring with Madonna. She is currently featured in ads for MAC Cosmetics.
Elliott, who couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, got her start in the music business as a writer, penning songs for artists such as Mariah Carey and P. Diddy before launching her solo career in 1997. She now writes and produces all her own tunes. The timing for the press conference today coincides with her performance Monday night at Madison Square Garden with Beyoncé and Alicia Keys on the “Ladies First” tour. Elliot and Beyoncé wore Dolce & Gabbana on stage as part of their acts.
For Adidas, the collection will help the German company build up the fashion end of its business and capture some of the sales going to brands such as Puma, which has steadily built up its nonperformance offerings. While its focus has long been on performance, Adidas is no stranger to hip-hop. The company was a favorite of early rappers such as Run-DMC, who helped fuel the craze for the brand as a fashion look in the mid-Eighties and even had a song called “My Adidas.”
In recent years, Adidas has focused on building up its women’s apparel, and on offering collections and not just items. It also has entered other fashion-oriented collaborations, including its successful partnership with designer Yohji Yamamoto.
Nonetheless, while Nike and Puma have gone more aggressively into fashion, Adidas has continued to stress that it wanted to maintain its focus on athletic and performance products. However, as its sales have sputtered recently, especially in North America, the company is trying a range of strategies to regain momentum. It recently tapped Erich Stamminger, a 20-year veteran of the company, as its U.S. president and chief executive officer, succeeding Ross McMullin, who left the company.