Yes or no? Yeezy sneaker sales soar as fans, companies split on giving Kanye West the boot | CBC News

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Rafael Joseph faces a costly dilemma. He normally wouldn’t think twice about lacing up one of his eight pairs of Yeezy sneakers, the much-hyped partnership between Adidas and Kanye West, aka Ye.

But after the rapper’s recent anti-Semitic rants on social media and a podcast, Joseph, who is Jewish, is contemplating abandoning his pricey collection.

“I love wearing them, you know? And I found myself in a position where my entire collection has been ruined by [his] statements,” Joseph said.

He is one of millions of sneaker collectors and music fans who are now evaluating whether they can separate West’s controversial views and actions from his creations.

CLOCK | The Jewish sneakerhead explains why he won’t wear his Yeezys:

Jewish Sneakerhead Quits Yeezy Collection Over Kanye West’s Anti-Semitism

Rafael Joseph hopes the rapper will one day apologize for his comments about the Jewish people. Until then, Joseph says he won’t be wearing his own collection of Yeezy sneakers.

In a TikTok video explaining his mixed feelings, Joseph urged the rapper to apologize, saying it was the only way he could wear his Yeezy collection again.

“I’m not telling all Jews to stop wearing Yeezys. This is a personal thing,” Joseph told CBC News from his home in London, England.

“I have a personal problem wearing brand name clothes when I’m promoting someone who is really causing problems for my people.”

But where Joseph has a problem, many others see an opportunity in West’s fall from grace.

Adidas division fuels Yeezy hype

After Adidas cut ties with West on Tuesday, ending production and ordering authorized retailers like Foot Locker to remove Yeezy products from stores, the resale market went into overdrive.

Most Adidas Yeezys sold for an original retail price of $200 to $300, but could sell for hundreds more at resale.

This week, resale prices soared as sneakerheads scrambled to snap up the coveted shoes, made more exclusive than ever by Adidas’ discontinuation of the brand.

Since Monday, Yeezy sneakers and sandals have made up seven of the top 10 best-selling shoes on resale giant StockX.

West appears in New York on November 6, 2019. Many business associates and others associated with the rapper have severed ties in recent months due to his controversial behavior, which included wearing a ‘White Lives Matter’ t-shirt at a fashion event. . (Evan Agostini/Invision/The Associated Press)

“As long as there’s a demand for it, and people keep coming to us and willing to pay three or four times the price, then there’s no point in us not selling it, right?” asked Richard Chang, co-owner of online retailer Sneaker Source Toronto, which has about 100 pairs of Yeezys in stock.

Unlike the big box retailers, Chang and his business partner, Shawn Alonto, can’t afford not to sell their remaining supply, despite their own trepidation over West’s recent antics.

“Stop selling, I can’t promise that,” Alonto said. “But just using the product right now, yeah, it’s too new to be stunted in some Yeezys.”

Shawn Alonto, left, and Richard Chang, co-owners of Sneaker Source Toronto, say they don’t plan to stop reselling Yeezys, but won’t be wearing the brand for the foreseeable future. (Supplied by Sneaker Source Toronto)

In any case, many of the pairs still floating around on the resale market will likely never make it to the high street: With price tags ranging from the low hundreds to several thousand dollars a pair, they’re considered collector’s items, and its value is expected to increase in the coming years.

“A lot of people who had a bunch in their closet that they were probably going to wear one day, that they were going to possibly sell, now they’re probably going to keep it forever,” says Andrei Zelenine, co-owner of the Toronto sneaker. store Kenshi, who saw his own rush of Yeezy slayers this week.

“Most of the people who buy them don’t seem to care what’s going on [with West]. They just like them because they are good shoes… After all, they are just a pair of shoes. The shoe has no voice of its own.”

Andrei Zelenine, right, and Pat Bryjak appear in front of a wall of Yeezy shoe boxes at their Toronto streetwear store, Kenshi, during an interview with CBC News on Tuesday. (CBC News)

The fight for Ye-proof playlists

Even companies with no ties to West’s business ventures were quick to distance themselves from the rapper, including stores, restaurants and gyms that are now removing his music from their playlists.

A “major retailer” in Canada was among hundreds of companies to remove West’s songs from their rotation last week, along with major restaurant and hotel groups in Australia and the US, says Ola Sars, chief executive of Soundtrack. Your Brand, which provides music to some 22,000 companies worldwide. Sars declined to name the companies involved.

West performs at the Coachella music festival in Indio, California on April 21, 2019. Some companies, including stores, gyms and restaurants, are now removing West’s music from their playlists. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)

Big brands were especially concerned about customer perception, which is likely to lead to more disengagement from West’s music, said Melanie Fulker, director of customer service at Startle Music, a competitor of Sars’ company.

“It just takes, in an extreme case, for a customer to hear the song and be upset by it and that’s a lasting association they’ll have with that brand,” Fulker said.

“In many cases, companies want to talk about problems, but also [to] err on the side of caution and just make sure they’re protecting themselves.”

Fitness giants Peloton and Equinox are among the brands that have confirmed they will no longer use West’s music in their classes. Large Canadian gym chains, including GoodLife Fitness and Fitness World, declined to comment.

It only takes, in an extreme case, for a customer to hear the song and be annoyed by it and that’s a lasting association they’ll have with that brand.– Melanie Fulker, Startle Music, on Big Brands Taking West’s Music Off Playlists

Winnipeg spin cycle instructor Hannah Pratt decided Monday that she would no longer play West’s songs during her classes at the Wheelhouse Cycle Club, which include a hip-hop-themed ride on Sunday mornings.

“My role as an indoor cycling instructor [involves] create playlists that try to bring positivity, joy, connectedness, motivation and inspiration to the people who walk through those doors,” said Pratt, who is also the studio’s chief marketing officer.

“Playing Kanye West, I wasn’t going to do those things, especially if there were people within the Jewish community who were in my attractions.”

Sneaker collectors are rushing to buy Yeezy shoes, driving up their prices, as Adidas announced it will end production of the Yeezy brand. Here, some styles of Yeezys are displayed at a sneaker resale store in Paramus, NJ, on Tuesday. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

While Adidas hasn’t said what it plans to do with its stockpile of unsold Yeezys, industry insiders and sneaker fans are hopeful the sportswear giant will continue to make the same iconic designs, without reference to West.

As Joseph waits for an apology that may never come, he doesn’t know what to do with his eight pairs of Yeezys: Put them away in his closet? Sell ​​them to one of the many collectors looking to buy? Or maybe donate them to a good cause.

“They were expensive shoes,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, I really don’t want to lose to them.”

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