As part of an editorial titled “The Measure of a Hip-Hop Star? It’s on Your Feet,” TIME writer Victor Luckerson explores the business side of hip-hop stars getting their own sneaker deals. Drawing research from Matt Powell, an analyst at SportsOneSource, Luckerson contends that “A celebrity sneaker launch is more publicity stunt than big business venture.” While a choice excerpt appears below, head here to read the piece in its entirety.
Though West has benefited from the hysteria surrounding celebrity sneaker releases—he gave away 50 pairs of red Air Yeezy IIs earlier this year to help promote his latest album—he may now try to the buck the trend of celebrity shoes being elaborate marketing ploys. Before leaving Nike, he expressed frustration to anyone and everyone about not being able to distribute the Air Yeezys in wider numbers. “Nike would make you believe it was my fault that you couldn’t get them, but that was not the case,” he said during a stop in Nashville on his current tour. “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.”
Adidas, which has only 5.5 percent of the basketball shoe market in the U.S., is in need of another strong brand spokesman. The company dumped $185 million into an endorsement deal with Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, but he’s out for the season again with another long-term injury. Perhaps Adidas will give Kanye a chance to make good on his boasts that he is the Steve Jobs of fashion.