Merchandising: When Adidas and Lego cooperate

Regina Henkel

Published on 10.02.2021

When Puma and the fashion house Jil Sander launched their first joint sneaker in 1996, it was the initial spark for a whole new genre within the fashion and sports industry: cooperation. Here, things that did not belong together came together, and that is precisely where their special appeal lies to this day. In the meantime, everything that has rank and name cooperates, the more different the pairing, the better. Even IKEA has sought partners in the fashion world and collaborated with US star designer Virgil Abloh in 2019 for his luxury streetwear brand Off White. But other fashion labels have also shown creativity in their choice of partners, such as the French It-label Vetements, which has chosen DHL, of all things, as its cooperation partner.

The scandal with the DHL T-shirt

The first DHL T-shirt caused a worldwide outcry – even in the fashion world. No one wanted to understand why one should pay almost 250 euros for an ordinary cotton shirt with a DHL print in the CI colours of red and yellow. But the idea was so good that Vetements has since even launched a capsule collection with DHL, which was officially launched in 2018 in the DHL Hub in Leipzig, one of three international DHL air freight hubs. “The collection returns, so to speak, to the place of its origin, to the industry that inspired it: logistics,” a DHL spokesperson proudly explained at the time. To this day, Vetements uses the DHL logo for itself, and one could almost say that within the fashion world, the logo of the parcel service provider has become a trademark for Vetements.

Current examples of sensational collaborations are the collaboration between The North Face and Gucci, whose collection was also “developed” for Pokemon Go, and Adidas and the toy manufacturer Lego. The result is a pair of sneakers in the typical Lego colours and with a studded sole.

An unusual trio: Supreme, Oreo and Colgate

If there were a prize for the most unusual collaborations, the US streetwear brand Supreme would be the clear favourite. After Supreme folding chairs, goldfish jars and oil cans, collabs with Oreo and Colgate came out a few weeks ago. So true brand fans can first fortify themselves with Supreme Oreo biscuits and then brush their teeth with Supreme toothpaste!

Collaborations with the US space agency NASA are also fashionable. NASA logos are currently very popular and can be found in many collections, for example at H&M. Here, the US agency only gives its permission to use the logo, there is no cooperation in the real sense. Moreover, NASA does not earn anything from it, as the agency repeatedly tries to make clear. But anyone who uses the logo without permission gets into trouble with the legal department.

Unwanted cooperation

There are also cooperations that are not wanted by either side. The Canadian mountain sports brand Arc’teryx provides a current example. US designer Virgil Abloh is a self-confessed Arc’teryx fan and integrated parts of Arc’teryx jackets and climbing harnesses into his Off White women’s collection for A/W 2020 – allegedly without the consent of the Canadians.

Another recent example: Just a few weeks ago, a dispute between The North Face and a Texas oil company made headlines because the oil company was denied permission to put the company logo on the outdoor supplier’s jackets because The North Face wants to distance itself from the fossil fuel sector for sustainability reasons. However, in its justification, the oil company said that most of the brand’s outdoor jackets are made from petroleum-based materials.

Photo: Adidas x Lego