“I’m gonna make sure everyone gets Yeezys.”
Kanye “Ye” West made this claim way back in 2015 after Adidas came out with Yeezy, a collaboration between Ye and the sportswear manufacturer. This partnership was deemed one of the most impactful sneaker deals in history and paved the way for a new era in sneaker culture.
Since the conception of the collaboration, Yeezys have been synonymous with the ‘Ye’ brand because of their wild silhouettes and mixtures of tans and browns; this made them iconic. Ye made a splash, and as fast as his brand climbed to the top, it soon began to crumble — even Ye had the capacity to crash like a burning fire truck.
The rise and fall
Last year, Ye went on Instagram and posted his disdain for Adidas, referring to how their recent sneaker silhouettes were “copying” his designs. “The fact [Adidas] felt they could color my shoes and name them without my approval is really wild,” Ye wrote in one post.
Ye felt frustrated with the way Adidas was managing his brand and felt his designs were being stolen, but badmouthing the brand on social media wasn’t exactly the smartest move.
Ye was also seen wearing a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt during a Paris fashion show. He borrowed the phrase from a neo-Nazi group of the same name. This, combined with antisemitic remarks he has made over the past few months, was a major blow to the Ye brand as a whole.
As you might have guessed, many people were outraged, and the controversy began to accumulate and affect his standing with those around him. This resulted in Adidas kicking him to the curb in October of 2022.
They cut ties with Ye back in October, 2022; Ye systematically destroyed his career and effectively removed himself from not only the brands he worked with, but from future endeavours as well. In the aftermath, Ye crawled to Sketchers in an attempt to find a new partnership, only to get rejected.
With the Yeezy brand finally dying after becoming one of the biggest sneaker names, it begs the question: what does Adidas expect to do after the storm has subsided?
We need to consider multiple factors. For one, Adidas has only just started losing. Adidas must continue to brave the storm ahead as it debates a major question: what to do with the remaining pairs of Yeezys?
Since this breakup happened at the tail end of last year, Adidas has still had to grapple with the remaining pairs, worth roughly USD $1.3 billion. Sneaker production involves a lot of time, and with that comes preparation. A lot of pairs of Yeezys are sitting in a warehouse ready to go, but like with all messy divorces, the concern now is about who gets custody. The sneaker divorce is real, and it has major repercussions for not just the Ye brand but for Adidas as a whole.
Adidas is stuck between a rock and a hard place. For starters, they can’t just sell Yeezys. Doing so would mean paying royalties to Ye, and that’s the last thing they need for their image. The rumours of their rekindling, while optimistic, are nothing but blind hope. The relationship between Ye and Adidas has become toxic, and it’s not worth the trouble.
Another option would be parting ways with the sneakers. There’s the potential to destroy them, but that’s definitely not eco friendly. The last thing Adidas needs is to be destroying products they already spent time manufacturing.
Donations could be another solution, but the problem lies in the resale market. The fact that the sneakers can still be sold for more than their initial retail price means they will likely re-enter the market, but the profits will probably end up out of Adidas’ pocket.
The exact details of what Adidas plans to do with its remaining stock are a mystery. The fact is that no matter what path they take, they will probably lose. While it is easy to sit and wonder what the final outcome will be, only time will tell the future of Adidas.
The future of Pablo
As for the sneaker community, this changes a lot of things. For starters, Yeezys had a minor jump in resale value after the breakup hit news outlets. Data from Stockx — a leading resale sneaker website that treats sneakers like stocks — reported that Yeezys had an increase in price of more than 20 per cent. The newfound scarcity of these products shapes the market differently, but not as intensely as one might expect.
While you may view the antisemitic comments as an instant dumpster dive in product value, people think that the scarcity of the products down the road will eventually determine the market. Many people still enjoy Yeezys for their comfort and design, and the death of a monumental brand deal like this completely changes the game.
The next thing is to see what Adidas will do. Without the Yeezy line, they lose a major selling point for their brand. Perhaps someone else will step in and make something new.
Unfortunately, Ye was wrong in the end — not everyone will be wearing Yeezys, and maybe that’s for the best.