Would you pay that kind of money to buy shoes?
Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype went under the hammer recently and grossed $ 1.8 million. With that, the Yeezys worn by the Grammys became the most valuable sneakers in history. This is the first time that a pair of sneakers has soared for over a million dollars at an official sale.
Over the years, sneakers have become a staple with celebrities, athletes and movie stars putting their weight behind high-end sneaker designs. Limited edition versions of sneakers, also known as “sneaker drops”, are generating great interest among buyers. These sneakers then end up on the gray market where dealers who bid on them resell them to those who are genuinely interested in them for a significant margin. These sales are not documented and are often cash transactions without receipts. The Nike Air Yeezy 1 sale, however, is flawless and was curated by the auction house, Sotheby’s.
In the glamorous world of “sneakerheads”
Those who follow the sneaker market and bid for the best and limited editions are known as “sneakerheads” which tend to jack up the price of a pair. In the recent past, almost all major fashion brands made fashion sneakers. The extremely high interest in this type of sneaker has also prompted traditional shoe brands such as Nike and Adidas to turn to making limited edition pairs or collaborating with celebrities such as Kanye West. The Nuke Air Yeezy 1 is an example of Nike’s collaboration with the rapper, who was once aboard Adidas.
Interest in sneakers is so great that some are starting to see them as an asset class. For example, the buyer of the Nike Air Yeezy 1 is a company called Rares, which calls itself a “social investment platform that allows you to invest in rare sneakers by buying and trading stocks” . So you can actually buy a “share” in the Nike Air Yeezy 1 just like you would buy a stock in a publicly traded company.
What makes Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 so special?
The 50th Annual Grammy Awards took place on February 10, 2008 in Los Angeles. That year, singer Amy Winehouse returned home with the most awards. Winehouse has never attended the ceremony since she was in a drug rehab center. The artist with the most nominations, however, was there. In fact, he even performed on stage. For this performance, Kanye West was seen wearing a pair of sneakers that no one could literally identify. The only thing they knew was that it was a Nike because of its trademark swoosh.
For almost a year before that, there were strong rumors that Kanye was going to release a sneaker in collaboration with Nike. The rumors were, of course, true and Nike decided to use Grammy’s as a platform where they would reveal their top secret project. The year-long whispers had created a hype around the pair and when they went public the sneaker world went crazy. Everyone wanted to know more about these new sneakers. More importantly, everyone wanted to have them.
It helped Kanye to be at the peak of his career. He won in four categories at that year’s Grammys and so the sneaker drop wasn’t just a product reveal, but rather a critical moment in popular culture. He also heralded the advent of the multi-billion dollar sneaker industry, which, while popular, had yet to reach the dizzying heights it has today. He also launched the Yeezy brand, which Kanye West then took over to adidas in 2013.
Still, the whole phenomenon started with Nike Air Yeezy 1. The sneaker took two years to make and was one of the first times that a pair was created for an artist and not an athlete. When you look at the early days of sneaker culture, the Nike Air Yeezy 1 ranks high. This is also why he grossed $ 1.8 million. Or Rs 13 crore!