Adidas is expecting to foot a bill in excess of $1 billion after dropping its collaboration with disgraced rapper Ye—but that doesn’t mean consumers are choosing to shun the sportswear giant’s once highly sought-after Yeezy line.
In fact, demand for Yeezy sneakers—shoes designed by Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and sold under the Adidas label—has surged in the months since Ye trashed his reputation with a series of anti-Semitic rants.
Many buyers now seem to be regarding Yeezy sneakers as collectibles and are seeking them out in hopes they could go up further in value.
In an interview with CNN published on Monday, John Mocadlo, chief executive of California-based Impossible Kicks—which buys and resells high-end sneakers online and in its 17 U.S. stores—said West’s Yeezy sneakers were one of its three bestselling brands.
Jordans and other Nike footwear were the top sellers, ahead of Yeezys, according to Mocadlo.
“Demand for Yeezys has surged 30% since last October to November,” he told CNN. “We sell about 30,000 sneakers in total every month. Probably 6,000 to 7,000 of those right now are Yeezys.”
Mocadlo added that many customers seemed to be unaware of any controversy with Ye. “I’m very surprised by that,” he noted.
Yeezy 350s were one of the most in-demand designs, he said, and were priced up to 40% higher than their retail value, with a price tag somewhere between $350 and $400 on his resale platform.
However, he noted that Ye would not be a beneficiary of those elevated prices, as the resale market only included goods that had already been purchased.
In a report published last week, bot detection firm Netacea named Adidas Yeezy Slide Bone sneakers as one of 2022’s most sought-after products by scalper bots, which are programmed to buy up in-demand items so that they can be resold at a profit.
The report’s authors said that Adidas halting the sale of Yeezys had given the sneakers cult status among consumers.
“As a result, the Yeezy Slide Bone saw its resale value, which was already double [retail value], rise by a further 10% over the quarter,” the Netacea report said.
Adidas, just one of the brands to cut lucrative ties with Ye in response to his comments, said earlier this month that the dissolved partnership could end up costing it $1.3 billion thanks to vast volumes of unsellable stock.
Footlocker, Gap, and Universal Music Group were among the other firms that pulled collaborations or projects involving Ye following his anti-Semitic tirades.
Despite Ye not making a profit from resales, complicated IP rights could mean Adidas ends up paying him royalties for the Yeezy brand well into 2023.
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