Regardless of if you ever had a wicked jumpshot or not, most everybody had dreamed of having their own signature sneaker. Lately, rappers have been following in the footstep of Run-DMC and securing their own shoe deals. However, TIME magazine believes most of these new deals (see: Kanye West and adidas or Drake and Jordan Brand) are simply publicity stunts.
While shoes attached to NBA stars like LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Michael Jordan are usually manufactured in mass quantities, celebrity sneakers are almost always created in limited runs. West’s previous line of Nike sneakers, the Air Yeezys, generated tons of hype because they were so rare. The release of the Air Yeezy II in 2012 saw people lining up for days before they were released and bidding as much as $90,000 for the shoes on eBay. Matt Powell, an analyst at sports-research firm SportsOneSource, estimates that around 5,000 pairs were ever produced. For comparison, Nike’s most popular shoe sold around 3 million pairs last year, Powell estimates.
“Part of what makes collaborations like this successful is very, very limited distribution,” he says. “They create a lot of hype, they get mentioned in all the sneakerhead magazines and blogs. There’s a lot of brand attention to it.”
It’s these sneakerheads, avid shoe collectors that sometimes have hundreds of pairs of kicks, that are the true target market for celebrity shoes. Their willingness to line up for days for a much-hyped sneaker or pay thousands for it on the secondary market makes these shoes seem desperately sought after and generates free press.
This would explain why despite Yeezy insisting that his sneaker was a game changer, Nike still curved him when it came to royalties or designing more kicks. Can you see any business sincerely passing up on something that really is a money maker and not just a hype machine?
However, if West’s new line with adidas does indeed become a hit, and a revenue generator, he will have the last laugh. We’ll have to wait and see but history is not on Yeezus’ side. For example, Jay Z’s S. Carter with RBK (Reebok) sold exceptionally out the gate but quickly whimpered after releasing so many shoes.
“It will be interesting whether Adidas maintains the same kind of control over the quantities,” Matt Powell of sports-research firm SportsOneSource told TIME. “My gut is if they made a lot of Kanye West shoes, they’re going to find that the demand goes way down.”
Less demand for something by Kanye West. How could that ever happen? Oh wait.
Photo: Instagram/Greg Street