Sneaker trends today tend to be fleeting, with the window to make a significant cultural impact open for just a short period of time. But rap star Kanye West and athletic standout Adidas have found ways to resonate with consumers far longer than the standard 15 minutes of fame.
After a solid debut with the Yeezy Boost 750, Adidas and West followed up with several other looks, such as the wildly popular Yeezy Boost 350 and 350 V2 models. And the partnership continues to yield new silhouettes that fans adore, including the Powerphase and Wave Runner.
Footwear News spoke with four sneaker insiders — Concepts creative director Deon Point, Packer Shoes owner Mike Packer, Lapstone & Hammer founder and creative director Brian Nadav and Extra Butter creative director Jason Faustino — to find out.
When, if at all, will the Yeezy bubble burst?
Deon Point: “It really may not be ending any time soon at all. He has the ability to reinvent himself and create new silhouettes; there’s so much more that could be done. If you look at him like you would look at a marquee athlete, someone like LeBron [James], he’s on his 15th shoe and Kanye is just getting started. He’s not viewed in the same light as an athlete, but in our eyes on the retailer side, he is — he’s actually bigger. He has the ability to become larger than anything we’ve ever witnessed.”
Jason Faustino: “If it were going to continue with just the 350 Boost, it would have started bursting at the end of this year. It’s starting to get to a snobby point where if you look at the people wearing Yeezy [350s], it’s hitting a level of mainstream that ultimately influencers or people really into fashion are trying to distance themselves from and move on to something else. But with the influx of something like the Wave Runner, a style like that can continue the momentum, for sure. And dropping other styles like the Powerphase, and bringing in variety to the Yeezy line, will keep it going. Both appeal to different audiences and both are very welcomed at this time.”
Mike Packer: “If it’s done in a smart and correct way, it’s sustainable for a long time. They started with the 750, then the 350 and the 350 V2, and now you have Powerphase and the Wave Runner. You could have a good rotation; you don’t have to have one model all the time with a bunch of different colors. And I’m sure they have other things coming down the pike. It’s sustainable and it’s growable.”
Brian Nadav: “Kanye West is one of those people that can seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of his fan base. The Yeezy bubble may never burst, but resell prices and hype will continue to fall with the increased quantity of each drop. It’s simple supply and demand. Yeezy will continue to sell out day of release, and it will be interesting to see how Adidas will manage the number of units per drop moving forward.”
Why are people still obsessed with Yeezys?
DP: “That’s the million-dollar question. It’s a shoe that makes my life hell because even my grandparents are asking me for them. In my 20-something years in being immersed in sneakers, I’ve never seen anything like it to this capacity. When he left Nike, there were a lot of people thinking it was a one-shot wonder and would die out. Somehow, it has not only retained its success, it keeps growing. Kanye is such a vocal artist and is always in some sort of headline or being spoken about. On the brand side [Adidas], they’ve done an amazing job of putting pairs in the marketplace, while steep keeping it coveted. And for the consumers, with the riots, the fights, and having to resort to raffles — which is always a difficult process — that has all added to the allure of what a Yeezy is. I don’t know how it has retained the energy and excitement that it has, but I think we’re all siting back wondering, ‘How long could this last?’”
JF: “I think it’s a lack of other options because there doesn’t seem to be another leader that people want to follow or get behind. And also, I think Adidas is doing a brilliant job overall as a brand, and the things they’re doing with technology and design and messaging. Everything they’re doing right now is working. Kanye happens to be one of the biggest faces to push the Adidas product on the footwear side. It’s the perfect storm.”
MP: “It’s product. If the product is good, people want it. Bottom line. Kanye lends himself to it, obviously, and that’s a big part of it. But the product has to be good.”
BN: “It’s because Kayne is such a polarizing figure. He is the influencer of all influencers in today’s youth culture. Also, having Yeezys on your feet today is more of a status symbol than rocking most Jordans. There used to be a time when having almost any OG retro Jordan was the epitome of cool. Those days are long gone.”