The Champagne was swigged back in seconds last week as the limited edition adidas Predator Mania sold out almost instantly. For a boot with such iconic status and such magnitude that was little surprise. As the bubbles flowed and the sold out signs were viewed through blurry eyes of nostalgia, one thing was confirmed: the limited edition market in football is real.
Limited edition "Hype Boots" have evolved in recent years and there's no doubt football brands are focusing more on creating hype as much as sales. The adidas Predator Mania Champagne being a prime example of that. Not too long ago limited edition football boots came and went with little fuss, an ideal side-project to fill a blank space in a brand's calendar. But more recently limited edition boots are becoming the main event on the calendar, much in the same way as the sneaker industry. The adidas Predator Mania looked more like Yeezy season than Champagne season with a David Beckham launch, queues outside Pro:Direct's LDN 19 store, instant reselling and sold out signs appearing within seconds of the scheduled launch.
There's a buzz and an anticipation surrounding the limited edition game in football at present and a contributing factor to the rise is the cross-over and visible trend between sneaker culture and football product. Nike have launched numerous editions of football inspired footwear such as the Air Footscape Magista, Zoom Mercurial Flyknit and Roshe Tiempo to name just a few, and adidas have consolidated the rising category of football sneakers with the success of their ACE 16+ Purecontrol UltraBOOST. In turn, this has brought the worlds of sneaker and football culture closer together and that's resulted in limited edition football footwear coming in for similar demand to the way the sneaker market embraces limited designs.
The evolution of the limited edition market in football comes down to a number of key influences. Signature series for players who brands have heavily invested in are becoming more frequent as brands look for maximum return by raising the profile and premium status of their athlete with an exclusive product. The rise of custom culture, collaboration, innovation advancements, a more diverse archive and digital media have all influenced the limited edition market with brands having eyes on their every social channel and there's higher pressure on being able to put on a show. It's as much as how the story is told as it is about how the product looks. Each limited edition needs a reason for the consumer to be connected, not just limited for the sake of being limited.
A quick look back sees limited runs of Nike 'What The Mercurial', Nike 'EA Sports' Mercurial, Nike GS, adidas Revenge Pack, adidas 99g boot and of course the Mania Champagne, all released to stir up conversation and desirability over pure sales figures. All of those boots sold out in the first few hours of going on sale, as did the adidas ACE 17+ Purecontrol Paul Pogba and Nike Tiempo Totti X Roma.
That element of premium exclusivity is becoming more and more important for brands, each release creating more hype for the next with thousands of customers missing out and in turn becoming hungrier. It's not just about securing a product, it's the achievement and bragging rights that come with knowing that the vast majority have missed out. Ask any sneakerhead, it becomes an addictive feeling. Together, the leading football brands are building this buzz within the game, all while building a desirable reputation around their respective logos.
So where next for limited edition football boots? The rise of hype boots is likely to follow the patterns of limited edition sneakers. The re-releases are always going to go down well, as will signature or commemorative series but brands must ensure they aren't tempted into making it a regular occurrence. When it comes to limited editions it's very much quality over quantity. More regular drops would harm the desirability of these products and therefore generate less interest. The smaller the number, the higher the interest.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have provided some of the most exclusive signature limited edition hype boots in recent seasons but they ain't getting any younger. That leaves a huge gap for adidas and Nike to develop new signature series. Pogba and Neymar, anyone? Away from the signature scene and collaboration will be key – which brand can capitalise on the vastly growing relationship between football, lifestyle and fashion. Premium fashion labels are closer than ever to be collaborated with on football boots and those connections could well shape the future of hype boots as we know them.
There are wheels in motion with adidas already creating a limited edition Yeezy American Football cleat and Parley for the Oceans sneakers & shirts that will undoubtably lead to a football boot. Collabs with Palace, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Yohji Yamamoto have all positively influenced football culture in the past for the Three Stripes and the potential for further limited edition cross-overs is huge. Nike have linked up with Olivier Rousteing and Riccardo Tisci who both left their mark on football-sneaker silhouettes and PUMA have history collaborating with fashion brands BAPE, colette, KITH and ALIFE. The surface has been scratched and the potential is strong.
View the full adidas Champagne Collection here.