“YEEZYs in the stockroom, that’s the name, make the stock boom,” raps Kanye West on Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red track “Go2DaMoon.” Although arrogant, the 2020 Presidential candidate is often accurate. So it’s worth revisiting his famous comparison to MJ.
The famous claim
Back in 2012, a couple of years after the ground-breaking artist and designer delivered his first signature sneaker, the Nike Air Yeezy 1, he proclaimed on New God Flow that the “Yeezy jumped over the Jumpman.” And at the time, his statement felt more like wishful thinking, but what about in 2021?
Kanye the designer
Once an underdog, Kanye earned his stripes. In the mid-2000s, he paid his dues designing special College Dropout-themed editions of BAPE’s Bapesta and Reebok’s S. Carter shoe. And as his passion for fashion grew, he gradually upped the ante to high fashion, designing sneakers, women’s shoes and apparel in collaboration with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Giuseppe Zanotti and A.P.C.
Just like Mike, the Chicago native teamed with Nike to create a signature sneaker. The Nike Air Yeezy 1, which hit retailers for the first time in 2009, proved once again that Ye had his finger on the pulse culture. After a short, but successful run with the house that Phil Knight built, Kanye took his talents to adidas.
Under Kanye’s fruitful partnership with the Three Stripes, the Yeezy footwear line has expanded and now includes sneakers, slides, boots, dad shoes and whatever the Yeezy Foam RNNR is. Trend-setting Yeezy silhouettes such as the Yeezy Boost 350 or the Yeezy 450 are some of the most sought after sneakers for cool kids from Calabasas to the Lower East Side. Yeezy-branded footwear can be spotted everywhere from the NBA hardwood to Sotheby’s Auction House, where a pair of Nike Air Yeezy 1s worn by Ye at the 2008 Grammys just sold for $1.8 million.
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What’s the verdict?
With a penchant for changing the game, the Grammy Award-winning star’s hot streak has crossed over from music to fashion and technology. An OG sneakerhead, the self-proclaimed Louis Vuitton Don has leveraged his love of fresh kicks into a billion dollar footwear empire. But has Yeezy jumped over the Jumpman? Not quite.
According to the experts, such Matt Powell of The NPD Group, not one pair of Yeezys was in the top ten best selling athletic shoes of last year. However, both the Jordan I High OG and the Jordan XIII made the list. On GOAT’s list of 12 top performing sneakers from 2020, the Jumpman appeared 10 times.
Although fans of Yeezy —the artist and the kicks— continue to camp out in front of stores in hopes of copping some Yeezys, the overall sales of Kanye’s kicks haven’t caught up with the sales of Jordan silhouettes. And it’s okay. Kanye rapped and ranted for years about his innovative ideas for designing everything from clothes to sneakers. Now the Graduation artist finds his athletic shoe brand at the forefront of sneaker design, innovation and pop culture. Over the course of his storied career, Kanye has proven that if the stakes are high enough, he’s willing to step up to the challenge.
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