Every time Kanye comes out with a new shoe, sneakerheads go crazy, pay way over the retail value, and will even line up for days. But a new article from Time has one thing to say about all that: Don’t believe the hype. Even though getting a sneaker deal seems to be standard for any major rapper’s rise to superstardom (see Drake, Nike), the cold hard facts point to one conclusion–and it’s not that the stars are trying to reach out to their fans in a new way. “A celebrity sneaker launch is more publicity stunt than big business venture,” says the Times.
Here’s what happens: A rapper gets a shoe deal and releases an extremely limited number of shoes to ensure exclusivity–only 5,000 Air Yeezy IIs were ever produced in 2012, compared to sales of 3 million for Nike’s most popular shoe. (This ensures that hype.) And the sneakerheads fall for it every single time–sometimes paying up to $90,000 for a rapper’s shoe on eBay. “It’s these sneakerheads, avid shoe collectors that sometimes have hundreds of pairs of kicks, that are the true target market for celebrity shoes.”
What’s interesting is that the shoe brands themselves aren’t even profiting that much from the sales. So what’s the point? Mostly just free press and notoriety for the celebrity–each new sneaker release creates a bubble of hype, but it tends to simmer down after a short amount of time.
You can’t really fault a celebrity for being interested in a free publicity stunt, but the hype would be more deserved if more people could actually partake in the frenzy. Kanye left Nike because they wouldn’t distribute his shoes how he wanted–maybe his move to Adidas will start a positive, newYeezy trend.