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 Comments

  • I wonder what’s the lifetime sales of Air Force Ones

  • Not a huge fan of Kanye, but he did say Yeezys for all. Im happy because that made me finally copped a pair. One of the most comfy shoes ever.

  • @dannymoore your in this at 26 seconds

  • There’s people talking things about yeezy, because resellers, can’t make money if there’s sneakers for everyone.
    If Kanye release more shoes he will realize, that people will still buy the shoes, not for making money, not for hypebeast, but because they’re really good shoes.

  • I don't get why people sleep on lines for any materialistic products especially for 20 cent sneakers that sell for hundreds of dollars. Sad, ya very sad lol. Funny how Kanye said in the interview that he was young and couldn't afford the popular sneakers so he drawn them and now he selling his way more than back then. I'm good smh lol

  • 0:25 why it say rosko that quais?

  • Devil

  • 0:24 BTW That is not “Roszko” it’s “QiasOmar” Who even is Roszko?!

  • Well… Virgil and Kanye left Nike because they weren't getting payed or respected creatively

    Nike messed up man

  • I Love Yeezys 350, I think they’re a nice looking sneaker , some ppl hate them.
    But I would never pay re-sale price . Took me what 4 years to get a pair , got the Cloud white and I love them . Yeezys are never going die , and resellers need to get a real job

  • don't associate clothing brands with Jesus Christ or . for the Christians an religious..

  • This is stupid he just admitted people in general don’t like things because of how they truly feel about em they just bandwagon and go with the wave. “When they came out everyone including myself was like what are these ew they look a mess” but when they sold(to those who do like them) that changed the ones who didn’t opinion about them. Why? If you don’t like something u don’t like it why waste $200+ on something you don’t like just so you can fit in. Then when their not the wave anymore a year later because people switched to another hype then they’re sitting there never being worn because people gonna say nobody wears those yeezys anymore. Stop tryna fit in and just do you. You either like something or you don’t

  • Next stock market target ,, Yeezy!!!
    6300$ Omg i will buy Rolex Datejust

  • Nike wouldn't let him design ugly shoes. Adidas let him design ugly shoes.

  • Made in China and Hong Kong !
    Con artist Kanye !

  • Kanye still running his sweat shop's an slavery labor for slavery wages ! he still a Oreo !

  • The rise? Or the fall?

  • 4:48 that shoe in the background is a real shoe

  • They are just shoes nothing more smdh

  • I'm so tired of these clowns acting like something has to be ultra limited to be dope. I don't care how dope a shoe is if no one can get it who cares.

  • resellers are butthurt lol

  • Esta basura es amigo de donald trump

  • He already made a shoe that is cool, not that hard to get, yet everyone wants one… 350 V2 Black?

  • Yeezy more like cheezy

  • Pretentious resellers are what's bad and me personally would never pay 1k for a shoe just to keep the hypebeast fed.

  • I used to get hyped for new Yeezy drops but not anymore after they flood the market. I'm more into the Travis Scott now. You do need hypebeasts to promote your product.

  • This was a weird analysis 👎🏼.. your narrow view of the global appetite for this guy’s shoes is appalling

  • I'm happy resellers/hypebeasts are getting mad. It's time Ye's ordinary, less rich fans to get a chance to get his sneakers.
    I still want a pair

  • Only people saying Yeezy’s are dead are the rat resellers

  • Yeezy = Jesus

    What a way to make buck! Using Jesus name as the marketing tool ! Kayne West is so super smart. He uses Jesus name for his business venture by fooling gullible Christian and gentile.

  • Yoo i just realized that everyone said "Yeezy are dead" are also the reseller. Who bought for $220 retail price and sell if for $1000++, If you bought the yeezy for yourself and wear them. Actually its good if they are not expensive. 🤣

  • Yeezys are by no means dead. In fact, they're blowing up. Kanye's plan for everyone to have yeezys is now unfolding

  • Kayne isn’t even that good to uprise a company… he’s just a crazy man who fks Kim. The only reason why people buy Yeezys are to look cool and fit in the society with debt

  • I pitty the fool who ony likes shoes because they are popular

  • Virgil started it

  • I just got some coppers

  • Thank god he went to adidas. Leave Nike focus on sports.

  • ugly

  • Bruh naw my whole highschool loves yeezys it's just everyone poor

  • Yo that's me!!

  • Love the video production, well done !

  • its not that people dont want yeezys I just that they are expensive, no matter how many are release. . .

  • When you just HAVE to show how much money you have (or had) while simultaneously showing how little you care about your looks, your reputation or your understanding of rich people being your oppressor (not white people). Kanye thinks his background story is worth listening to because his mom couldn't afford Jordans. Yeah, him and 99% of the rest of the world's population. Now his success is measured by how very few people can afford his used sneakers.

  • He is rich but he cannot give me an iPhone 5s. 🙂

  • Yeezys are only dead in the resell market only because they're less limited and also because of the high price. Kayne wanted kids to be able to have yeezys, he's already making almost every new Yeezy releasing coming in a family size but I don't think having a 200 dollar shoe is a good price.

  • that dude having a mid life crisis collecting sneakers at age 35 lol

  • He calls himself Pablo oh oh and Jesus as well…

  • should be Sears tower. 0:52

  • Let’s go with Kanye idea, make the shoe affordable for the kids who want a pair. These sneaker head “collectors” resellers are killing the industry… smh

  • Anybody think yeezys are the ugliest shoe of all time

  • Is she Vsco 0:07

  • 2:22 is by far the fuglies shoes ever made. Yuck!
    Ill always go for the Campus anytime of day.

  • Next:Donald Trump is the king of aliens

  • This video should be called: "the rise and fall from Yeezy's"

  • Kanye himself is trying to make the shoes cheaper for consumers so it’s the resellers complaining that doesn’t mean the shoe is doing bad

  • Whatever ye will still work with @adiddas

  • Them muthafuckas ugly look like tug boats

  • You craezy Kanye 🥴👎🏻

  • Crazy 👟spend so much money for reseller make them rich instead make ownself broke 🤦🏻‍♂️ see how their lifestyle compare with ordinary ppl…😭 save more money for own in future use rather then make them rich 😒

  • Yeezys are comfortable and chic so leave it alone Even if they r not in trend Im always gonna wear Yeezys

  • Celebs who seems like nothing to do w makeup has amazing makeups or do it for money But Kanye has passion and actually designed something good

  • How many guys prefer the Nike yeezys? 🙋

  • Summary answer: copy Roshe

  • 2:56 anyone watch Power?

  • Lookin for a pair of pharrell williams human race euro size 9 if anyone can point the way to a reputable seller moneys there plus a commission please an in dublin ireland ,peace.

  • Dead?Anytime something new yeezy is released it sells out the same day

  • CNBC Make It.
    Nobody wants to see videos about Kanye, his stupid products and his ridiculous wife. You degrade the CNBC brand with this video.

  • aint nobody notice that guy over lining his lips with lip balm lmao

  • yeezys alive

  • 🔥🔥 🔥🔥 🔥🔥 🔥🔥 🔥🔥

  • 3:15 trying so hard not to crease his red octobers 😂

  • It’s sounds like they are trying to make his brand look bad. In one breath they say that the Yeezy brand is loosing its popularity….and they are not going to release the shoe line as often because it’s not as trendy. But in this same fluff piece they turn around and brag that they created 400 million 👟 sneakers in 2019. It sound like you guys don’t want Yeezy to compete on Nike and Adidas level. I’ve never seen a Nike or Adidas shoe on the black market yet, you’re bragging about selling 400 million shoes…next to Kanye’s 1.5 million shoes. In other words, trends is not keeping Adidas from being the most popular shoe company in the world. Now it’s making sense why Yeezy has decided to build his own factory and grow his own materials. Because then he can control and create 400 million shoes a year….and become direct competition to Nike, Adidas and Vuitton.

  • Who is that borat guy with lots of sneaker?

  • Honestly if everyone had a Ferrari how special would you be compared to the guy next to you? I can see why the og fanbase is mad

  • They only releasing the ugly colors !!!!!

  • 9:48 Dude was litteraly eating a burrito, look at his lips.

    1:17 And what's up with that other sneakerhead mustache? I thought it was fake😂

  • half of these shots are from downtown toronto

  • they look thicc

  • They're overrated

  • Breh I need some

  • Bring back Nike dunks

  • Lol why was Qias tagged as Rozko 0:24

  • NOTHING LIKE JORDANS.

  • So his plan is to sell more, he doesn't want the ''only the elite has my shoes'', he wants his creation in the feet of everybody that wants it. What does that mean? Resellers are going to have to find another market very soon. Good for the fans.

  • Ur like 9 yrs late

  • Kanye praying to Jesus and selling $200 shoes.

  • 0:16 what is this thing lmao

  • 0:36 eyy my man Doctor Soles

  • 0:56 that's my man

  • Get em Ye! – Rum 🌟🎨❤💛💚

  • Those shoes looks disgusting, of course this stupid rapper is behind it

  • I really want Yeezy but i don't have money 🙁

  • 3:18 at least have a good fit

  • 2:43 Thats the wrong cover

  • Yeezy Beanie Babies

  • Yeezy Beanie Babies

  • In 100 years, when people think of Kanye West, they’ll think of Ray J…… Truuuuuust me……

  • There was much more to the reason of why he left Nike…lol

  • With clout

  • made by 莆田 中国 嘻嘻嘻嘻嘻

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