Are Athletes Losing Influence To Celebrities? - PUSHAS

Are Athletes Losing Influence To Celebrities?


Remember the days we laced up our favourite athlete's endorsed shoe?

You know... when we would pretend we were them, whispering their name as we took a shot on the court?

Well those days are long gone...

Forget the Kobes, the LeBrons, the KDs.

There are new kids on the block and it seems as though they are the new wave.

From Yeezus to Pharrell; the sneaker scene has scene a shift in influence.

What used to be a scene that was influenced by the top athletes is now dominated by the celebrity power of singers, actors and co.  

Athletes. The Embodiment Of Perfection.

It's 1991.

Michael Jordan leads the Chicago Bulls to their first NBA championship whilst claiming his first NBA Finals MVP award.

All done in the Air Jordan 6 Infrared. 

You can call him the GOAT. You can call him the Don. But there was one thing for certain. He was on top of the world. Everyone loved him. They glorified him.

Everyone including his rivals on and off the court. 

And whilst both the kids and adults placed previous Jordan models as the number 1 item on their wishlists, Michael Jordan's feats underscored the powerful influence athletes possessed at the time.


Fast forward 15 years and we're in 2006. Kobe is in his 'Mamba' mode.

'Killer Instinct' activated and drops 81 points against the Raptors.

Every point scored in the Nike Kobe 1. 

People were dubbing him the next MJ. Kids were screaming out "Kobe" every time they took a shot... even if it was chucking paper in the bin. 

Again, Kobe showed the world the inspiring power of athlete performance and greatness. And soon after, the sneaker scene was populated by constant demands for Kobe's signature shoe. 


And it was not just these two guys that were leading the crowd. There are countless names in the NBA arena alone. Some of which include Iverson, Ewing, LeBron, Pippen, Hardaway. 

These were leaders of not only the USA but the entire global stage.

Soon, every person who needed a source of inspiration to look good went straight to this special league of athletes.

Even celebrities would be seen rocking the latest sneakers in music videos, movies, and on tour.

A league that was unmatched by anyone else. 


Until now.

The scene has changed. 

If the average consumer was asked for an iconic sneaker named after an athlete, they would struggle to name a few - and only if they were following the particular sport.

Some of which include Russell Westbrook, Odell Beckham Jr. and Paul George. 

Sure there are many more signature performance shoes out there, but are they making the same level of impact on consumers before? 

Celebrities. Rocking On Forward. 

It has already been a week since the Super Bowl LII and yet there are still talks about the exclusivity of Justin Timberlake's 'Air Jordan 3's'. 

So exclusive, only 520 pairs of the Nike Air Jordan 3 JTH were dropped at end of his performance on the Nike SNKRS app.


And in case you didn't know, the shoe sold out almost immediately after going up online and are already being resold in the thousands. 

If that is not astounding, then you would be shocked to find that resale prices have gone up to $2,000AUD...

Justin Timberlake on working with Jordan Brand: 

"Working together with his team to make shoes that we love was always something we wanted to do. So when we had success with the ‘Legends,’ we knew we would have to find another great moment to do that again.

This album and really this specific performance felt like the right—and even bigger and better—moment to collaborate."


It is safe to say that this move has marked a new strategy for Nike, as the brand increasingly attracts non-athlete partners.

Recently though, the Air Jordan brand has gone beyond the figure of Michael Jordan, with the likes of key tastemakers in music and fashion such as DJ Khaled, KAWS, Aleali May and Virgil Abloh.

Drew Hammel of @Nikestories notes:

'I love the shift. Obviously musicians and artists are thoughtful, creative people who look at sneakers in fresh and innovative ways.

I’ve been watching what artists wear for years on NiceKicks’ Celebrity Sneaker Stalker, so I’m glad Jordan Brand is inviting them into the creative process and allowing them to redesign some of the classic silhouettes.'

Just a few days ago Kendrick Lamar’s Nike Cortez 'Kung Fu Kenny' was unveiled.

Nike's decision to drop these during the All-Star Weekend seems timely given the attention around the event and Kendrick's roots in the host city. 


Even in recent times we have now seen Travis Scott with his own collaboration on the Air Force 1.


And it is not just the Nike brand executing this move.

Just last month, we saw A$AP Rocky spotted with a never before seen Under Armour shoe. 


We are more than aware of the way Adidas has approaching the power of celebrity influence. 

Whether it may be the man himself Kanye West, creative Pharrell Williams or Pusha T; the German brand reinforces the end of an era for athlete inspiring the average consumer. 


What we thought as a phase back in the 1980s with Run DMC's music ad for Adidas is now a culture. 

A culture that brings together all the different types of people.

A culture here to stay for years to come. 


Whilst it is safe to say that athletes still hold some level of influence, the power of the arts is unquestionable.

In the world of sneakers, the jocks no longer are the most popular kids in school. Now the arts kids that are running the show.


Let us know what you think in the comments below! 


By Daniel PUSHAS

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1 comment

It’s a great blog post. Would be good for next post to explain why this is the case!

Terrance Smith

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