Leo Narrison, Campus Carrier Graphics Editor
On the last day of 2015, Kanye West released the song “FACTS,” where he enthusiastically proclaims, “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman.” Yeezy refers to West’s clothing and footwear line that he currently produces through a partnership with Adidas. The Jumpman that West mentions is a nickname for the Jordan brand that is a subsidiary of Nike. Reported by the NPD Group in September of 2017, data from August sales in the market for footwear show that Adidas has passed Jordan Brand to become the second-biggest footwear seller in America. Yeezy, or more broadly Adidas, has in fact, jumped over Jumpman a year and a half after West made his claim.
The rise of Adidas footwear and the decline of Nike footwear can be widely attributed to what is known as the “Kanye” or “Yeezy” Effect. The idea behind this effect is that Kanye’s partnership with Adidas has revitalized the athletic brand and promoted an exceptional growth in sales. The “Kanye Effect” was first seen in the late 2000s when the hip-hop mogul partnered with Nike to release the Air Yeezy. According to data compiled by Campless, a sneakerhead data company, and posted on Highsnobsociety, a lifestyle and fashion website, Nike observed a $41 billion increase in revenue from 2009 to 2010. While other factors may have influenced this trend, the 2009 release of West’s first signature Nike shoe certainly had a noticeable impact.
West would go on to leave Nike to join Adidas in 2014 where his first signature Adidas shoe was released in 2015. In both partnerships, West’s sneakers have been released in limited quantities and have always sold out upon release. This fact is the main argument for individuals that believe that the Kanye Effect is not a justifiable phenomenon. These people argue that Yeezy sales do not have a large enough impact on the overall bottom line of Adidas to suggest that West’s influence is responsible.
I believe, on the other hand, that West’s influence over the footwear and apparel market extends beyond the product lines that are marked with his own name. The current image of Adidas is intertwined with the idea of Kanye. The idea of Kanye, and not the man himself, is what lies at the core of the Kanye Effect. The idea of Kanye is a bold, innovative and vocal personality that is fully willing to and capable of expressing itself freely. Adidas has capitalized upon this mindset and has translated it into their entire portfolio of products. West’s influence sparked a trend of innovation within his partner company that has been very well-received by consumers, as shown by Adidas’ increased sales.
Kanye West’s entrepreneurial talents are often overlooked because of his successful achievements in the music industry and his animated social demeanor. However, to anyone that doubts the widespread impact that he has had upon the clothing and footwear industry: Imma let you finish but, Kanye is one of the most socially influential minds of our generation.