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Beyoncé Teams Up With Adidas For Brand Relaunch

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, more royal news to report. But here we're talking about our Queen Bee, Beyonce. If you've been on your social media over the last few days, you might have seen celebrities like Janelle Monae and Reese Witherspoon and Diplo and Zendaya receiving giant orange gift boxes. It's part of the marketing campaign for the relaunch of Beyonce Knowles' clothing line, Ivy Park, now in partnership with Adidas. The relaunch was announced last April, but yesterday's release caused an online frenzy and quickly sold out. Here to talk about Beyonce's latest foray into the fashion world is freelance fashion writer Marjon Carlos. She's with us from New York. Marjon, thanks so much for joining us. Welcome.

MARJON CARLOS: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So, you know, we're used to seeing, you know, endorsement deals, right? Celebrities team up with brands as creative ambassadors or spokespeople, and they wear that brand's stuff and, you know, represent. How is this different?

CARLOS: You know, I think that The New York Times journalist Vanessa Friedman put it best a couple of years ago when she said that Beyonce doesn't need to work with other brands because she is the biggest brand. And so I think that's kind of like - that speaks to just her whole marketing scheme and the way that she operates. You know, she is an entity unto herself. So it is really interesting for her to team up with Adidas - right? - who is No. 2 in the sportswear and, like, athletic wear game, second to Nike.

And I think it's interesting in the sense of like, one, she realizes that she's huge. She realizes that she's a giant herself. But she's perhaps not a giant of, like, industry. And she doesn't have necessarily the manpower to be pushing out, like, product in the way that she needs to. And so I feel like this is a really interesting collaboration because it's her coming back as a giant, but working with another one to create a huge, huge disruptor to the athleisure and sportswear brand.

MARTIN: Why do you think she decided to team up with Adidas? Do you know? Do we have a sense of that? Because I'm imagining that everybody would want to work with Beyonce.

CARLOS: She said - I think this was last year. She said that she went and she met with a lot of brands, top brands, you know. And she left a lot of those meetings because there weren't enough POCs sitting across from her. And that was...

MARTIN: POCs being...

CARLOS: People of color, yeah, in the room. And she wanted to make sure that if she was going to collaborate with another brand that she needed to see herself reflected in the staff that would be collaborating with her. And I respect that. And I don't think that's an allowance that a lot of women of color are afforded. So it's incredible that she took this platform and was like, listen, from the top down, this is kind of a FUBU - for us, by us - operation.

MARTIN: The line is designed to be unisex, and it's very clear - a lot of the celebrities that she gifted, you know, some of them are men. So on the one hand, it's designed to be unisex, and a lot of the people are - in some of her ads - they're all - it's both, you know, men and women who identify as men and women. On the other hand, it doesn't come in larger sizes, which is interesting. The largest size is XL. And so people are kind of wondering, that's kind of an interesting message. Like, what do you think - what do you make of that?

CARLOS: If it is XL, I'm a little upset about that - right? - because she herself is someone who - she's not a size zero. And she's - I definitely have enjoyed watching her flaunt her body as she's had three kids, and she's thick, and she proudly talks about that. So I think that that would have been a really, like, a missed opportunity - right? - because those are really the core values of the fashion industry right now. If you're a designer and you're working, you're thinking about those issues when you start designing.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, OK, there's a - bottom line - you're a fashion writer. You write about, you know, culture and fashion. What do you think of the pieces themselves? What do you think of the lines? And I'm not going to ask you whether you were gifted with these pieces because I must assume you would tell me if you were.

CARLOS: (Laughter). You know what? From a fashion perspective, just design wise, they're so much better. It is such an upgrade from what we saw in the previous iterations with Topshop. This is like - this is something that's been really well thought out, pieces that I think are technically better. I personally just think it's just a more elevated approach to sportswear and athleisure than she previously put out. And I think that's why - well, obviously, it's Beyonce product, but I think also people are like, oh, wait, I'm wearing this. I mean, Janelle Monae's parachute coat? I mean, come on, like - drama. I love it.

MARTIN: That's Marjon Carlos. She's a freelance fashion writer. And she was kind enough to join us from New York. Marjon, thank you so much. And if you happen to get one of those gift boxes, maybe you could just lend - not give, but lend.

CARLOS: Of course. I've got you, girl. I got you (laughter).

MARTIN: You know, lend. Yeah. Exactly.

CARLOS: Thank you.

MARTIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.