The Original Fashion Influencers:

There are very few images that will better capture the birth of modern hip-hop style in the 1980’s; from product endorsements to style choices and sneaker culture, the image of RUN-D.M.C. crouched in front of the Eiffel Tower, circa 1986 highlights a paradigm shift in both fashion culture and rap along with the growth of fashion influencers in advertising. The song? “My Adidas”.

But this was so much more than just a song – to the modern hip hop fan, sportswear, flamboyant sneakers, and ostentatious jewelry are prerequisites in the hip hop industry. However, this was not always the case – pre-RUN-D.M.C. artists sported similar fashion trends to that of glam rock artists like Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard.

The problem? Hip-hop fans did not dress this way, leading to a complete disconnect between hip-hop fashion and the culture, race, and fashion donned by fans living in neighborhoods in New York, Detroit and Chicago.

With the launch of “My Adidas”, ‘three brothers, wearing three stripes’ revolutionised the hip-hop fashion movement that would forever stimulate the confidence of a newly evolving cultural demographic. RUN-D.M.C became the first hip-hop artists to receive a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal, leaving a fashion legacy that has led to a totally new revenue stream for hip-hop performers and artists alike in today’ss music industry. More than that, they founded and went on to cement the relationship between the fashion and music industry for decades to come.

The blend of fashion and music can still be seen in today’s advertising. Nike has launched their latest ad campaign with an assembly of up-and-coming musicians, social influencers and of course one of the world’s biggest sports stars Neymar Jr. The reason? To combat Adidas in an attempt to bring their streetwear brand in-line with that of their rival who has successfully connected their brand and products with youth culture for decades.

Albeit a global football superstar, Neymar Jr is extremely active on Snapchat and Instagram, showcasing his eclectic style, creative personality, and love for music. In order to bring the brand more in line with youth culture, Nike has partnered with music producers and up-and-coming artists such as Young T and Bugsey from the UK, Yung Beef from Spain and Yas Weneck from Brazil to launch the Neymar Jr Mixtape Vo. 1. This signals the brand’s intention to continue the strategy to engage youth audiences using fashion influencers dominant in youth culture.

The campaign launched with a two-minute feature video, showcasing Neymar and his football skills with retro VFX overlays and of course the music artists themselves taking on the superstar.

What are your thoughts? Are Nike creating true cultural connections with a youth audience or simply ticking boxes with extortionate influencer sponsorships that will be forgotten tomorrow?