Readers of Nice Kicks know that Wale has turned down deals (lucrative ones at that) from sneaker brands in the past. Today, the DC rapper and revered retro rocker has officially partnered with VILLA. While other artists have had strong relationships with shops (think Big Sean and Burn Rubber) or appeared in commercials, this is the first official rapper x retailer partnership to our knowledge.
According to VILLA, Wale will be working with the brand on collaborations with the first launch to come at the end of June.
UPDATE: What to Expect From the Wale x VILLA Partnership
Early on, it seems pretty smart. By joining forces with a retailer rather than a big brand, Wale should still be able to rock pretty much whatever he wants. Whether at events, on stage or on social, one would imagine Wale will be pushing VILLA initiatives, but if it generally pertains to product that he had a hand in and ranges over a variety of brands that’s a pretty smooth sell.
Signing with a sneaker store is a rather radical move and a nice contrast to the typical artist partnerships we see with brands that have recently become somewhat stale. Over the past few years, the likes of Reebok, adidas, PUMA and LA Gear have all tapped artists for their platforms, influence and occasionally their creative prowess, all with some success. Looking clearly at cool points and not contract figures, these deals have all elevated each brand’s footing in a fashion space dominated by the likes of Nike and Jordan.
On the flip side of the coin, artists that sign sneaker deals with big brands may be raking in some serious coin but it’s not always a total win. For an artist, the paycheck and exposure associated with signing to a big brand is certainly tough to turn down. However, when a brand buys an artist for their taste making abilities often times that’s exactly what it costs the artist.
By partnering with VILLA, Wale has a chance to maintain free agent flexibility when it comes to rocking a range of brands, but also see the exposure of posters or cardboard cutouts in stores all across the country with likely more locations to come.
In many ways, Wale working with a retailer is right at home for the MMG artist. Wale has always had strong ties to sneaker stores, from being one of the first artists to do meet and greets at local boutiques before concerts to still showing up at stores to shop while on the road.
Let us know your opinion and expectations of Wale signing with VILLA in the comments section and keep it locked to Nice Kicks for further developments on this deal.
Lead image by Paul Morigi/Getty Images via Zimbio