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How Nike lost the $1.5 billion Yeezy Deal

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December 3, 2019 15:57

Nike and Kanye West started developing the Nike Air Yeezy in 2007.


Throughout 2008 Kanye was spotted wearing various prototypes of the Yeezy’s, including many color ways that never hit shelves. The “Nike Air Yeezy 1” finally dropped in a zen grey colorway in April 2009, followed by the black colorway in May and in June a tan beige colorway was released. The initial price for the sneaker was $215 but as we know how crazy the sneaker collecting and reselling game became, you will have to spend $2,000 plus to get your hands on a pair of the “Nike Air Yeezy 1”.

The “Nike Air Yeezy 1” was ahead of its time and wildly popular in spite of its chunky and gigantic look. Pretty much every celebrity you can think of was wearing a pair.


After the huge success of the first version Nike and West began developing the “Nike Air Yeezy 2” and this time it would come with a much more animalistic design, with snake skin inspired features on the shoe. In the lead up to the release of the sneaker Kanye received a lot of celebrity co signs like Jay Z shouting him out during a performance in 2012 while already wearing a pair of the new sneakers.

Nike officially announced them in May 2012, originally only announcing a platinum and black colorway but later on also an all red colorway famously known as the “Red Octobers”.

The “Red Octobers” were announced in June 2012 and only 5,000 pairs would ever be produced. They retailed at $245 but immediately went on to be resold online for between $4,000 and $90,000.


Before the shoe even dropped the fallout between Nike and Kanye had already begun, with West stating he himself did not even know when the “Red Octobers” would drop. Kanye went on saying he had to ask Nike when the shoe was releasing, with Nike replying they were not sure at the time. During concerts of his Yeezus Tour which started at the end of 2013 Kanye went on dragging Nike publicly. As well as discussing his tense relationship with Nike on his now famous interview with Zane Lowe on BBC. After that interview Nike tried to smoothen out the relationship by offering Kanye more freedom and higher budget to create. But Kanye felt that the level of skill, the reaction his designs had created as well as the money it brought in for Nike were enough for him to deserve more control and earning royalties from his creations. Nike told him that they could not offer him royalties because he was not a professional Athlete.

By the time the “Red Octobers” were dropped as a surprise release by Nike, Kanye had already stopped wearing the “Nike Air Yeezy’s” and the relationship between him and Nike fell apart completely. It is rumored that the surprise release of the “Red Octobers” was only made so that Nike could get out of the deal with West and release him.


Even though Nike was more popular, Kanye decided to take on a new challenge and signed with Adidas in December 2013. Kanye stated “ I just might have taken the new Nike deal because I just loved Nike so much, but the new me with a daughter takes the Adidas deal because I have royalties and I have to provide for my family”. Adidas is reported to have lured Kanye with an amazing offer supposedly worth $10,000,000 plus royalties.


In hindsight Nike should have kept Kanye happy and gave him what he wanted, as they could have had another big brand right next to the Jordan brand.

As we all know by now Kanye West’s Adidas Yeezy line reached $1.5 billion in sales in 2019.  



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The employees in the boutiques, in the design studio and in the backstage area at fashion shows wear white lab coats, as was common in the ateliers of the great couturiers, e.g. Christian Dior, and is still common today. The fashion shows for the high-priced fashion sometimes took place in the context of the Paris Prêt-à-porter shows in unconventional locations, up to shabby surroundings (construction site, metro station, dining room of the Salvation Army etc.). The boutiques are kept in plain white and gray. Margiela originally selected unspectacular locations such as a residential area in Tokyo and did not publish the addresses of the boutiques in order to require the customer to make an effort to find the store at all. The first Margiela store opened in Tokyo in 2000 and the first European boutique was inaugurated in Brussels in 2002. In 2008, a boutique opened in a basement on the edge of Munich's Maximilianstrasse. This was followed by participation in numerous exhibitions, including "Radical Fashion", which was shown in 2001 at the V&A Museum in London. In 2010 there were 36 own stores worldwide.  In 2015 there were over 50 stores worldwide, including boutiques, that only carry the MM6 collection.

The company followed a very restrictive communication policy. The designer can neither be photographed nor interviewed. Only his creations should speak for themselves and the designs should be perceived as the overall performance of the team. That's why the team always shows up in white doctor's coats after the fashion shows - nobody should stand out.

By recycling old fashion, separating, recoloring, reversing seams and zippers, both the origin and the artificial of the art of tailoring are shown. Margiela puts together what doesn't belong together: by hand, jeans turn into skirts, old army socks become pullovers. Baptized by the press as deconstructivism, this current is defined by an abrupt collision of different materials, which at first glance appear inharmonic in the sense of conventional viewing habits. Margiela herself rejects the term "deconstructivism". He resurrected clothes in a new form, he told ELLE in 1991.

Margiela was the unofficial 7th member of "Antwerp 6", a generation of fashion designers who all completed their training at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1980-1981 and shaped the "style of the Belgians". However, it does not belong to the actual group, but it became known in a similar period.

The Japanese "Street Magazine" dedicated two special editions to "Maison Martin Margiela", which were published in book form in 1999. Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga) is a big fan of Maison Martin Margiela.

In July 2014, fashion critic Suzy Menkes exposed Matthieu Blazy via Instagram as Head of Design, after which he deleted his Instagram account and changed his profile in a career network. He left the company on October 1, 2014.

To this day, Margiela pieces, especially in the fashion industry and all fashion lovers, belong to the sanctuaries in every repertoire and archive. Getting vintage pieces from other designers may be possible, but Maison Martin Marginal Archives are a real hunt and that says it all about this art.

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