How Kanye West Built Yeezy

How Kanye West Built Yeezy

These are Yeezys. People have camped out at shoe stores,
hired Taskers to wait in line on their behalf and even used sneaker buying
bots to nab a pair online before they sell out in seconds. Others spent thousands of dollars
on the resale market. The man behind that
craze is Kanye West. But recently, some of that
excitement has turned to skepticism. Are Yeezys dead? Is Yeezy resale dead? Is Yeezy still cool? Certain Yeezy models cost a lot less
on the resale market than they used to, and resale prices are a
telltale sign of a product’s cachet, especially for hypebeasts. But it turns out, this is all part
of West’s grand plan for his sneaker empire. Here’s how West created one of
the most hyped sneakers of all time and the struggles he’s facing trying to
build the brand into a household name. When I first got into sneakers
back in middle school, into high school, I just had this one pair
of Adidas Superstars that I thought was the end all be all. Then I
remember scrolling through my Facebook timeline and this beautiful red image of a
pair of Kanye’s Red October Nike sneakers popped up on my feed, and that
was the first time that I stopped to look at a sneaker just from a
purely piece of art point of view. And I just thought to myself, wow, I
need to find a way to get those. Over the course of five years, West and Nike released the Air Yeezy 1,
the Air Yeezy 2 and the Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers. Retailing at over $200, the shoes
were released in extremely limited quantities and sold
out instantaneously. They now resell in
the thousands of dollars. The success of the shoes finally put
West on the map in the fashion industry. For years, his designs
were met with ridicule. A lot of fashion gatekeepers tried to
hold Kanye back by calling him a clothing maker or saying that
he wasn’t a real designer. Kanye West was really sort of
passionate and desperate and really actually thoughtful. He didn’t want to just
be sort of a celebrity fashion designer. To break into
the fashion industry, West interned at Fendi in 2009, where
he was paid about $500 a month. In 2015, West even said he went $16
million in debt trying to get a clothing line off the ground. But no matter what he did, he
still couldn’t quite knock down those doors. And so he took an alternative
route through the sneaker world. West says he was a speaker head as
a kid, even though he didn’t have the money to buy the shoes he loved. When I was in fourth grade, I
was drawing Jordans when my mama couldn’t afford them. I was drawing those Jordans,
getting kicked out of class for drawing them. West got his start as
a producer on Jay-Z’s 2001 album, The Blueprint. He hit it big as a
hip hop artist after releasing his own album, The College Dropout, in 2004. Then West set his sights on
another passion of his — fashion. He even told a New York Fashion Week crowd
in 2016 that his dream is to be the creative director of Hermes. While West had a difficult time getting
people to buy into his clothing designs, his shoes instantly
clicked with fans. The first pair of sneakers that really
got me into sneaker collecting was that pair of Red October Yeezys. He articulated something in those sneakers
that really resonated with me without saying a word, of me
not knowing anything about them. That sneaker was the spark that cascaded
the entire rest of everything you see here over the
past three plus years. In Yeezy’s first eight years or so,
hype around the shoe was at its strongest. Yeezy started as a partnership
with Nike in 2009 before West switched to working with
Adidas in 2013. During the Nike years and in the
first few years of his partnership with Adidas, customers went to great lengths to
get their hands on a pair. Any website you go to, Yeezys would
probably sell out in like five seconds. I’ve seen people camp for
Yeezys in the dead cold winter. I’ve seen people like have
their little tents or whatever. Or just bundled up in a
lot of jackets or something. Caleb Chen is one of many sneaker
flippers cashing in on the Yeezys hype. I bought the Bred V2 for about $220
and I’ve sold it for about $1,100 to $1,200. But some of West’s designs
have been an acquired taste. People have scratched their heads or
recoiled at certain Yeezy models that West released with Adidas, like the
Yeezy Boost 700 Wave Runner, which came out in 2017. It drew comparisons to
ugly dad shoes. Everyone across the internet was just like,
“Oh my God, what is this? This is disgusting. Is this a joke?” And I had all those same thoughts. But thinking about the big picture, I
said every other time people or myself have thought that exact same thing
about a sneaker Kanye has put out, people eventually turn around and
go, “Oh wow, I was wrong. I wish I jumped on those
sneakers when I had the chance.” But designing sneakers just for hypebeasts
wasn’t good enough for West. That’s why he ultimately left Nike
for Adidas in 2013: more creative freedom and to turn Yeezys
into a household name. West told BBC Radio in 2013 that
he didn’t want to be just another celebrity with his name
attached to a sneaker. People didn’t love the Yeezys the
way they did for no reason. Picture this. For me to do the Yeezys
and not have a joint venture backing deal with Nike the next day would have
been like if I made Jesus Walks and was never allowed to make an album. West told Ryan Seacrest that he found
the partner he was looking for in Adidas. They offered to allow me to make
an entire line and give me an office and all these things I want
to do just to create more. The hype around Yeezys
fueled West’s ambition. Except the more shoes he released,
the less special they became. If you look at somebody like Kanye
West, he’s truly one of the most ambitious people I think that we have seen
in the past few decades. Kanye West has called
himself Walt Disney. He’s called himself Steve Jobs. So we know that it’s not
just about a physical sneaker. It’s about when he is gone and we
are talking about Kanye West, we don’t talk about just the music. We talk about what he’s created, what
he’s left us, his stamp on the world. West wants his Yeezys legacy to
go way beyond an expensive and inaccessible shoe. In fact, he wants quite the opposite. West spoke with Ryan
Seacrest in 2015. This isn’t about elitism. This isn’t about separatism. This is about as many people being
involved with this vision as possible. Eventually, everybody who wants to
get Yeezys will get Yeezys. Adidas has promised me that because there’s
so many kids that have wanted them, that couldn’t get them. And I talked to the heads at Adidas
and they said we can make them. Instead of demand for Yeezys being built
on rarity and hype, West wants everyone to be able to find and afford
a pair of Yeezys and still want them. Kind of like the Adidas
Superstar, which are readily available at their typical retail cost
of $100 and under. And it was the top selling sneaker
in the United States in 2016. The Superstar debuted in 1970. To this day, it’s still an
iconic emblem of the Adidas brand. However, the Superstar’s popularity is cyclical
and sales have declined in the last couple years. Now Adidas is betting on Kanye
West and doubling down on Yeezys. If the goal is to scale Yeezy
into a multi-billion dollar brand, experts say there’s still a long way to go. The Yeezy brand has a fundamental
impact on our overall brand position. But it’s still in the bigger context
of us being a $25 billion company, you know, a small
part of our company. There were probably a million, maybe a
million and a half Yeezys sold last year in pairs in the United
States and throughout the world. Adidas made 400 million pairs
of shoes last year. A million pairs of Yeezys is
really a drop in the ocean. There is a reason why there are the
numbers of shoes made by Adidas for Yeezy. It’s not because there’s no
factory space to build the shoes. They simply are creating this
artificial sense of scarcity. When you think about it in that
light, it really tells you that the product can’t be a larger story. It has to be limited
in what it brings. In other words, demand for Yeezys just
isn’t strong enough to produce the shoe in much larger quantities. Nike and Adidas have never revealed how
many Yeezys they release per drop. But West said in 2015 that there
were 9,000 pairs of his first Adidas shoe, the Yeezy Boost 750. He then boasted to Harper’s Bazaar
in 2016 that he was consistently selling out 40,000 shoe
drops in two minutes. But Adidas was also dropping
Yeezys less frequently back then. The German sportswear company tested the
extent of demand for Yeezys in 2018 by restocking several popular Yeezy
models in much larger quantities. In September 2018 came the
largest Yeezys drop ever. There were rumors that over a million
pairs of 350 V2 triple whites had hit the market in what Adidas called
its most democratic drop in Yeezy history. West tweeted about the event,
saying the release fulfills Yeezy’s democracy philosophy, but suddenly the shoes
were lingering on shelves and flooding the market with Yeezys cost
the brand some of its cachet. They did sell out, yes, but it
took much longer than it had. It wasn’t selling out in hours. The lines were lost. And frankly, the sentiment that I
saw on Twitter was pretty negative. There was an attitude out
there that Yeezy was over. Yeezys tend to be dying. Is Yeezy resale dead? Do they not want them to be hype? I remember going into a store
and seeing them sitting on shelves. Dude this whole Yeezy thing is
quite possibly just like done. By appealing more to the masses, the Yeezy brand has alienated some
of its initial fan base. To a certain extent, I think Yeezys
have lost some of its wow factor. You start to think like oh man
the chase isn’t as there anymore because more people can get the shoe.
Scarcity is really important because ultimately hypebeast and sneaker culture love
to flex, they love to have what the other person doesn’t have. That’s all they operate in —
is essentially clout and bragging rights. Today, buying and reselling certain models
of Yeezys is a lot less profitable than it once was. Resale prices on many Yeezy models have
plunged after a few re-releases of the same shoe or releases of the
same model of shoe in a slightly different color. Once the resale price
of a shoe reaches its original retail price, it means
supply has met demand. It’s become apparent about how
many people really want Yeezys. And to keep people wanting Yeezys, analysts
say it’s critical to make sure supply stays behind demand. The reasoning is simple. When everybody can get
one, nobody wants one. Powell says Yeezy’s staying power will
be determined by how carefully Adidas manages its Yeezys inventory. It’s really critical that brands don’t
try to grow too fast here. It really takes a tremendous amount
of strategic thinking and discipline to build a brand around a celebrity. Powell says Yeezys could look to Jordans as
an example of how to grow a brand while maintaining
its cool factor. After all, it took Nike three decades
to build its iconic Jordan brand, a collaboration between Nike and former NBA
superstar Michael Jordan, into a $3 billion business. For years, the Jordan business grew about
10 percent a year because that’s all that Nike allowed to go into the
market — was about 10 percent more. They could have put in 20 or 30
or 50 percent more and probably sold them in the first year, but it
would have been gone after that. But Powell says Nike made a mistake
when it flooded the market with too many Jordans in 2017 and 2018. The brand has lost its cachet. Now, can they build it back? Yes, but it will take years. In 2019, Adidas has
taken a step back. CEO Kasper Rorsted told investors in
May there won’t be any significant growth in the Yeezy business
in fiscal year 2019. Adidas won’t be repeating another
massive Yeezys drop in 2018. Instead, the shoes are being
released in more limited quantities throughout the year. The goal is
to rebuild hype around the brand. Experts say it will be a long time
before West can achieve his vision: a sneaker that everyone wants and thinks is
really cool, even if it’s not that hard to get.

100 thoughts on “How Kanye West Built Yeezy”

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  2. 11:17. Out of everything Jordan has created, u guys chose to use whatever trash that is to illustrate Jordan and Nike? Wow

  3. Imagine crying over sneakers not going for 1000 dollars and having the sneaker fans able to afford them just like Jordanโ€™s

  4. Nothing but adidas mind though "if some people are make 5ร— profit why can't we let us release the 10 thousands pairs and we can make profit"

  5. This is all about greed in our society. We all want to have something and not share. The manufacturers know this and it creates a hype by producing limited quantities to drive the wants.
    Everyone can wear them and now no one wants them. So you bought the shoe for exclusivity and not because you Need the shoe. Or you bought them to resell because others like you are dying to be loved and liked in the society, so they have to wear a brand to keep their egos puffing. Status symbol over a piece of threaded fibers overlaying an extended TPu known as boost. Well done society, we have our priorities in order.

  6. Oh just leave Kanye alone for goodness sake you're trying to tear him down when he's just trying to build himself up into something greater than a musician don't hate on him because he's trying to be someone hate on yourself for not becoming someone more important than a blip on humanity's radar

  7. I ordered the cloud whites from adidas when they dropped and they never sent them to me, it took almost 2 months of contacting them 2 times a week to get my money back, last time I try to buy yeezy's

  8. Nike shoes really hit the market when virgil abloh came in with the ten collab. It took Nike a long time to achieve this amount of success and hype. Kanye single handedly took about 2 years since joining Adidas and built an empire that is now one of the best sneakers out on the market. Kanye don't care if yeezys are dead, the hypebeast resellers do.

  9. I want to buy yeezys, but the fvckng scalpers and resellers that are fake sneakerheads who only want profit ruined it. Just drop more yeezys!

  10. Nike's are made by child slaves.
    Adidas should build em in the states and market them as USA made.
    I'm okay buying my allen edmonds strandmoks for more than three hundred a pair cuz I'm not contributing to slavery.

  11. I can't believe people care about these shoes. It costs $7 to make them in China with trash materials and people pay hundreds of dollars for them lmao. Doesn't it feel ridiculous to buy shoes made out of pleather for $700!?

  12. I'm a shoe person.. but seriously people need to relax about shoes…., you own what ever thing uou have not thither way around.

  13. He canโ€™t be Jobs! And not gonna be a Jordan like famous!!! Jordan indeed is a legend!! Kanye is really good in Music! Thatโ€™s my opinion!

  14. If you are buying shoes for resale value, you need get your priorities straight. Buy shoes because you like to wear them.

  15. That guy w the mustache literally has all of the most expensive yeezys and just lost expensive shoes in general

  16. I find the whole thing stupid because the only way I can get them is by paying a premium. Now and then Iโ€™ve been lucky and got them from adidas. And all the people complaining are the ones that canโ€™t make money from a drop.

  17. It's so obvious the person behind this video is some 50 year old know nothing nerd with an opinion wearing sketchers. They are missing so many aspects of the pricing-designs-resell. Why make videos on something you know nothing about its embarrassing

  18. As a sneaker head with almost every single Jordan… these are hideous!! Only dumb middle schoolers or stupid fans but this crap to feel cool. Bunch of morons..

  19. when was buying shoes about the hype? lmfao i bought yeezys because I like the look of them. if you think they lost the wow factor bc they're less expensive than you never liked yeezys

  20. What goes up, must come down. The world is all foolishness that a cheap material made shoe could generate a real stupid customer base. Shenanigans

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