February 3, 2023

This is the last Week Ahead newsletter of 2022. We will resume publishing in January.

France’s World Cup final against Argentina on Sunday will also mark the latest clash between the two sportswear giants: Nike, which sponsors the French team, and Adidas, which equips their opponent. As with any high-profile football game, there’s even drama behind the clash of logos – Argentina star Lionel Messi, who probably played at the last World Cup of his career, was a long-time Nike ambassador before signing a lifetime contract with Nike in 2017. Adidas His arguable successor as the sport’s biggest star, France’s Kylian Mbappé, wears Nike.

Off the field, the rivalry between Nike and Adidas has more closely resembled Spain’s 7-0 victory over Costa Rica earlier in the tournament. Even before the Yeezy issues, Adidas struggled to connect with consumers (a BoF Insights poll of Gen-Z buyers found that 22 percent named Nike as one of their top three brands, double Adidas’ share).

Nike had its own ugly moment with a celebrity ambassador this fall, when NBA star Kyrie Irving shared a link to a movie promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But the athlete’s now-cancelled sneaker line wasn’t nearly as important to the main brand as Yeezy was to Adidas.

Still, Nike has faced some more conventional issues: it ordered too much inventory heading into 2022 and saw sales decline in China due to the country’s strict Covid policies. Analysts following the company say the worst may be over. Nike stores were busy during Black Friday as it put its excess stock on a steep price cut. And China is slowly emerging from its Zero Covid isolation.

There’s still a chance that both issues could depress Nike’s sales and margins in the coming year — the size of the company’s inventory overhang surprised the market in September and could do so again. China’s path forward is also murky, and homegrown activewear brands have gained ground during the pandemic. Adidas has a new CEO, Bjorn Gulden of Puma, to chart the company’s post-Yeezy path.

But it’s also not hard to envision a return to form in 2023. Nike’s strong brand automatically gives the company an edge as it tests new markets or sales channels, whether it’s a web3 platform or the first Jordan brand store.

What else should you pay attention to this week

Sunday

France will play Argentina in the World Cup final

Monday

Holiday sales results and final projections should start trickling in from retailers and analytics firms this week

Tuesday

Swiss watch industry reports exports for November

Nike second quarter results

Eurozone consumer confidence reading

Saturday

Christmas Eve

The Week Ahead would love to hear from you! Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to brian.baskin@businessoffashion.com.

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