Footwear brands get in step with music

The global footwear market, estimated to hit $195 billion in 2015, has always had a unique relationship with music.

From iconic tunes penned about middle class youth footwear trends in the 1950s (Blue Suede Shoes) to the more brand centric refrains of Run DMC (My Adidas) and Nelly (Air Force Ones) in the 80s and 90s respectively, music has often shaped the footwear of choice for a generation eager to show off its cultural agencies. Whether its the 70s Mod scene’s patronage of Dr Martens, The Ramones shifting from wearing Keds to Converse mid career, or British back-to-school staple Clarks becoming the brand of choice for Jamaican musicians, footwear is an integral part of the music persona. 

So, with the market booming (US footwear sales topped $54 billion in 2012) we have noticed a concerted push over the last month among many of the key players as they look to deepen their relationship with music culture.

Some of the more prolific campaigns that have surfaced include Ellie Goulding once again teaming up with Nike on a remix album, Taylor Swift re-imagining Keds sneakers, and Converse inviting European music fans to Get Dirty with a series of unique gigs.

Here we look at a few of the other brands leveraging music to spark conversations around their product. 

Palladium (London)

Palladium continues to side step the more routine music collaboration route, instead opting to showcase the passions of the talent that it choses to collaborate with, letting the artists explore evocative locations and sub cultures within music. Most notably the brand sent Pharrell Williams to Tokyo in 2011 to uncover the region’s rich underground scene.

Now its the turn of Eliza Doolittle, who with help from Gorillaz collaborator Remi Kabaka, takes us on a guided tour of London’s Iconic Battersea Power Station, unpacking its role in popular culture and giving viewers a rare glimpse inside the iconic landmark. Naturally, Eliza wears her Palladiums throughout the short film.

Brand benefits: sees the brand acting as a cultural curator, going beyond using music talent as soundtrack providers to hone in on the passions that drive their creativity. Beautifully shot, and with minimal branding, its manages to deliver credible content whilst promoting the brand's exploration theme. 


The Australian footwear brand touched down on the Coachella party circuit this year, hosting the UGG StyleHaven in partnership with social media fashion experts StyleCaster. The poolside event, which included DJ sets from Chelsea Leyland and the natural furry of celeb guests, saw the brand pushing social content across Twitter, Instagram and Vine via the hashtag #LetsGetLost. Various bloggers were also brought on board to push Coachella style content across both their platforms and StyleCaster's own dedicated festival channel.

Brand benefits: Coachella is as much about fashion as it is music, and UGG leverage the considerable buzz around the event to its advantage here, utilising in-the-know partners to champion both the brand and its style credentials across social media. 

PUMA (Japan)

Puma enlisted the help of South Korean boyband B1A4 (named after their blood types, apparently) to help promote their revamped line of suede trainers, with the idol group appearing in a TV commercial dancing in a b-boy style battle scene against the older variant of the footwear. The band also featured in a series of additional videos showcasing the most effective way to wear the trainers, backed up by graphs and stats highlighting the most stylish outfit embellishments.

Puma also hosted signing sessions with the sought after group and produced a graffiti mural in-store at its Myeongdong branch depicting the various band members.

Brand benefits: Puma taps into the group’s large social fanbase (referred to as BANAs) and their propensity to emulate the boy’s personal style with suitably tongue in cheek video content. What’s interesting here is how the brand uses B1A4’s musical comeback and new image to bridge the gap between 'Classic suede' and 'Future suede’ products.


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