The alignment of art and commerce is often sketchy at best. Consider the idea that one of the greatest artists of our time doesn’t sell his art. He finds areas, creates guerilla style and disappears without a trace leaving people wondering what is being attacked. That’s the modus operandi for Banksy. Art is meant to challenge, inspire, and titillate. Unfortunately, artists also have to survive which makes commerce a necessity that is often difficult to navigate.
When a big company aligns itself with artists it often feels forced and manipulative. In the last year adidas has been making a concentrated effort to align commerce and culture within its concept stores. This effort has produced stores that clearly look to utilize every inch of the commercial space while giving the adidas shops a direct connection to the city. In their latest shop in Chicago, their biggest to date in the world, they have continued a trend that I’ve been documenting (3 articles are listed below, there are a number of posts on the site that can be found by searching for adidas and art):
adidas has willingly created strong ties to the art world. This seems as if it isn’t really what sneaker companies should do, but consider the feeling an artist gets by having a prominent location to display their work. The richness of a city is increased when creators are given more locations to display their creations. This also generates foot traffic for adidas and endears the brand to their core audience. When a retail space no longer looks and feels like a commerce space, a comfortable connection can generate brand loyalty. I mean when your changing room is a place that looks like this:
It invites IG photo sharing when trying on footwear and apparel. Your shopping experience is an experience and the store contributes to browsing and visits.
The art is from IPaintmymind, Evan’s non-profit that supplies art and curriculum to Chicago Public Schools that have lost funding for the arts. “Because of this partnership with adidas we’ll be able to put art in three schools in the next few weeks.”The store, which sits under a section of the cities iconic elevated train system is located in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. The space is full of connections to the local creative community, including an original sculpture at the front of the store by Chicago artist POSE, and custom murals created by Tubsz, a south side native that specializes in Calligraffiti.