Culture

Why Kanye West And Adidas Have Reached The End Of The Line

In February 2015, Kanye proclaimed something that turned the heads of sneakerheads everywhere. “Eventually, everybody who wants to get Yeezys will get Yeezys,” he said, partially in response to news that kids were getting their new pairs stolen in the street.

As it turns out, Friday, September 21st is that day. According to the official press release regarding the “Triple White” Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2, “…[the sneakers] will be released in mass quantities, giving an unprecedented number of fans worldwide direct access at retail price.”

What that number will look like, we don’t know. What we do know is that like every Yeezy release up until this point, the Triple Whites will sell out, even with a steep retail price set at $225. That’s just the nature of a sneaker that’s been incredibly popular up until this point, and we really don’t have any evidence to say otherwise.

Since the 350 debuted in 2016 with a limited run of “Turtle Doves” — 9,500, to be exact — the average Yeezy release has seen an increase in quantity. For a more visual representation, here’s a graph that insider account YEEZY MAFIA created towards the end of 2017:

When information like this leaks, it can single-handedly reset the market. Rumors from YEEZY MAFIA about a potential restock of the Turtle Doves saw resell prices drop $500 in a year alone.

Of course, sneakers abide by the law of supply and demand, only to the extreme. With the increased mainstream interest that many attribute to the Nike Air Foamposite “Galaxy” release in 2012 — along with the proliferation of online marketplaces in which to sell rare kicks — reselling became a complex ethical decision. When I was younger, I justified my attempts at making money reselling by saying, Okay, this is how I can afford the next pair of Air Jordan 4s that comes along.

There’s a big difference, though, when I net roughly $700 in profit over five years, and a kid becomes a millionaire “entrepreneur.” Old ‘heads see a story like that and start reminiscing about the days when you could walk into a Foot Locker and the latest release was sitting on the shelf. Nike is a very self-aware brand, too — when people started jumping on the bandwagon and complaining about limited releases, the folks in Beaverton knew they had to act.

Therefore, in response, Nike announced sometime around 2015 that they would start increasing the amount of Jordan Retro releases, as well as upping the price. Their logic? Cut out the resell market entirely by making their shoes easier to get while clearing a higher bar at retail.

At least, that’s what they said. But in reality, the Swoosh was getting greedy, trying to sell as many overpriced sneakers as possible. And once consumer realized that the person walking across the street from them was wearing the same kicks, all of a sudden, those Js started sitting on shelves.

This killed Jordan for a while. Even if they were making more money, the overall perception, the “hype,” was down. And as the Jumpman sputtered, Adidas’ two main influencers/designers— ‘Ye and Pharrell Williams — pounced, steering the brand into the streetwear mainstream while also shifting the narrative of athletes being the only ones capable of selling shoes.


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