On Friday I left home before 7.30am to schlep it across the city to watch a short film and a live stream of the release of Kanye West’s brand new Adidas collection and sneaker, the 750 Boost.
Now I like sneakers, not as much as some, but I dragged my ass out of bed partly due to curiosity about the presentation, partly because of the shoe and mostly because of the music. But I was far from being the only one.
The Hoyts Broadway theatre was close to capacity, full of sneakerheads and music fans alike, some that had gotten up as early as 5.30am to be there for the 8am broadcast. As I looked around the darkened theatre, the ominous clock on the screen counting down by the millisecond, it made me wonder, is this worth it, for a shoe?
Don’t forget, my early morning brethren and I were the tame ones that showed up to a comfortable movie theatre. Around the globe there would have been thousands of eager sneakerheads camping out for hours to be one of the lucky few blessed by Yeezus to get their hands on one of the 9,000 pairs released globally.
These people take limited edition kicks and exclusive releases very seriously. So seriously that last year a 15-year-old boy was shot in the foot for cutting the line at a Footlocker in Brooklyn, where many had camped out for the release of Kanye’s last collaboration shoe with Nike, the Nike Air Pro Yeezys, which retailed for $245.
You may think, “OK, $245 isn’t bad for a good quality limited edition shoe from a respected brand”. But that price is reserved for the desperate souls ready to give up their beds and sanity for a day or so to wait on a footpath to get their hands on a limited edition pair.
For saner soles, the only way to pick up a pair is by private sale, and it can get seriously expensive. In fact, in 2012 a pair of the Nike Air Yeezy II’s were purchased on a ‘pre-order’ eBay listing for US$90,300, a sum driven up over 84 bids.
Reselling and swapping are a large part of sneaker collecting, and part of the appeal behind these ludicrously limited and hyped-up shoes is purely being able to say you own them. They’re hardly ever worn because as any collector will know, once your merchandise is out of the packet and used, it’s worthless. At a sneaker swap two years ago a friend had to swap 17 pairs of shoes and $700 in a deal to nab one, just one, pair of unused Nike Yeezys. What a bargain!
For musicians, collaborating with sneaker brands has been prevalent for decades (think back to the Ramones and their affinity for Converse Chuck Taylors and Run DMC’s head-to-toe Adidas uniform). But while having artists like these affiliated with a sneaker often increases its value and reputation, it’s not always the case.
Reebok hasn’t had the best track record with spokes people, with their lines with Jay-Z, G-Unit and especially Rick Ross failing to ignite. The first two just didn’t sell well, but Reebok had to sever all ties with Rick Ross after he rapped about slipping drugs into a girl’s drink without her knowing. Not exactly ambassador material.
This most recent release from Kanye and Adidas was a bit different for enthusiasts. An Adidas app was created to take reservations for the spacey grey suede high tops, to be collected at Adidas and other stores, solely in NYC. Unsurprisingly, the reservations closed after just a few hours with stock exhausted on the $350 shoes. With all 9,000 pairs selling out that means a gross income of $3,150,000 for Kanye and the sports giant, contributing to Ye’s $100 million net worth. And in the resale world others are set to make a pretty penny, with the cheapest pair of Adidas Boosts currently going for $1,000 on eBay – and that’s the starting bid.
Still, true sneaker heads will pay that amount and justify the financial irresponsibility. Josh Luber from campless.com has done extensive research into the sneaker resale market and figures that last year alone the resales on eBay were around $200 million.
We may see a slight shift in the value and demand for this sneaker though, as on Saturday morning Kanye went on air and confirmed that from February 28 a larger quantity of the shoe will be released worldwide, no doubt diluting their exclusivity and value. As the sneaker designer who fetches the highest demand and price, this move by Kanye is surprisingly pro common man, and will hopefully prove to be a long term shift in the market that customers can benefit from for future releases.
Still, if you still can’t get your hands on a pair after February 28, you could always DIY. No one will be able to tell.