February 10th was a monumental day in the career of Kanye West. The artist celebrated a decade since the release of his debut (and in my opinion his best) album “The College Dropout”. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs across the world were covering the anniversary and the picture below went viral. The picture showcases his albums using the famous bear that was so prevalent in his first three records.
This is of course comes a week after Complex Magazine crowned Mr. West as the most influential person in the sneaker world. The reason he’s a heavy-hitter industry is largely in thanks to the success of his collaborations with Nike, Bape, Reebok , and soon with adidas. That said to be crowned as the most influential person requires some serious pull. I personally don’t think it is terribly justified but I will get back to that in a minute.
Arguably his biggest moment in the sneaker industry was probably the week or so in November 2013 he publicly slammed Nike CEO Mark Parker while on his Yeezus Tour for “let[ting] go of culture”. The full rant is below:
For those that don’t want to listen to an autotuned rant then the important thing to get from the rant is the quote below.
“Did you not want the Yeezys? Nike would make you believe it was my fault that you couldn’t get them, but that was not the case. I wanted there to be as many Yeezys as there was LeBrons, and I wanted them to be at a good price, but that was not my choice, and we’re going to change everything.” – Kanye West
This came as a shock to some of us (including myself) since Kanye was apparently pushing for a wider scale release. Although it seems very shall we say “un-kanye” to release to the masses it is likely a smart move for his bank account and would let more of his fans get a piece of his art. Clearly this was a sticking point for both parties and Nike wasn’t too pumped on a wide release for such a limited shoe. Whether or not this was the straw that broke the camel’s back the breakup wasn’t civil and with Kanye ranting and Nike’s official source (Heidi Burgett’s Twitter) promising a release date it makes sense that Nike might just release the shoe to spite Kanye.
Back to Kanye being named the most influential person in sneakers for a second. In my mind, if the most prominent face of a brand goes out of his way to bash that brand in front of tens of thousands of fans multiple times then there should be a fairly negative repercussion in the share price of the company. Below I have the share price of Nike (courtesy of Yahoo Finance) from early November until they paid out their dividends on December 12th. The whole rant debacle happened from November 21st to the 28th (noted with the black box on the graph). You’ll notice that the price doesn’t really falter at all in the wake of the news, in fact as more news broke the value of Nike went up. Now this isn’t the place for a correlation vs. causation debate but what we can see is that the brand is not worse without him. It’s fairly safe to assume that in the weeks following his departure shareholders didn’t really care. (Side note: I know he bashed Louis Vuitton too but let’s not make this article even more complicated)
Fast forward to February 9th (a day before the tenth anniversary of the College Dropout, a day after one of the most famous SB Dunks got re-released, and a day after the Kobe 9 Masterpiece hit shelves). Nike has a couple thousand *complete guess on numbers* pairs of this red shoe that glows in the dark sitting in a locked room in Tennessee. They might still be a bit bitter about how things ended with the rapper that compares himself to a deity, and think they know a great day to release the signature sneaker that he put so much work into. They launch the shoe a day before his monumental anniversary to wash their hands clean of this whole situation. Without notice at 10 am (when parts of the country were mid-gospel) very lucky sneakerheads (and a wave of resellers) clicked on a Twitter link as fast as they could. Around 11 minutes later, the supply was gone and some fortunate people had picked up the last piece of Kanye West footwear to bear the legendary swoosh. This led to a myriad of humourous tweets (including this one). Hopefully was the final nail in a saga that has left a lot of people wondering what happens next. We will never know for sure what Nike’s intentions were by choosing February 9th to release these shoes so it leaves people like me with the opportunity to guess. My guess is simply that the shoes were made, and a chance to slight Kanye might be justified.
Who really knows though, all we know is that as far as Kanye is concerned:
“They can’t tell me nothing”.