Like you may have guessed, sneakerheads in China and Hong Kong aren't sleeping on the YEEZY hype, and Kanye West's current line of adidas-powered sneakers is just as popular in major Chinese cities as in New York, London, or other metropolises. Similar to anywhere else, Chinese sneakerheads want YEEZYs, but there simply aren't enough pairs to go around, and these conditions have created a bootleg market both on a local and global level.
What do people think about YEEZYs in one of the world's biggest manufacturing hubs? Who is rocking fakes? And how successful is the YEEZY brand? These were some of the questions on our mind.
Our panel of local experts includes Chinese influencer and the first model with an Asian background to walk in a YEEZY show Hoyee Li , Instagram reseller Penny Wan, and the co-founder of Hong Kong boutique Kniq, Asai Au.
See what they had to say below.
So we know YEEZYs are popular everywhere, but is Kanye West’s music popular in China?
HL: If you think about traditional Chinese music, and the language barrier, I would not say Kanye's music is popular in China, nor any US-based musicans. Sneakerheads however are more likely to listen to Kanye West though, because the process of being a sneakerhead involves research, diligence, and being ahead so there appears to be some convergences that would lead to their experience of Kanye's work outside of design.
PW: In regards to music I'm not entirely sure, as it's not my areas of expertise. But I believe Chinese international students are no strangers to Kanye's music.
AA: I don't think so, I think people are just interested in the sneakers not his music.
Would you say YEEZYs are pretty mainstream in China? Or are they only known by sneakerheads?"
HL: YEEZYs have definitely become mainstream due to the originality of the designs, and how rare in nature they are. It will take more time for the YEEZY brand to grow and become a household name, which I believe is also Kanye's intention.
PW: In fact, a lot of non-sneakerheads also recognize and buy YEEZYs, because of technology and media, also the shoes are quite popular amongst teens, so the brand is indeed very popular .
AA: I can say with confidence that YEEZYs are mainstream in Hong Kong, at the moment no other sneakers can compete with them or replace them, not even the NMD or Nike sneakers.
Are they a big status symbol in China?
HL: YEEZYs represent the highest convergence of influence and innovation in China, so they are extremely coveted, kind of like Goro's in Japan, however like with anything else, just because you own a pair does not make your status respectable, it is how you represent yourself through your attitude, actions, and holistic image that counts.
PW: YEEZYs for Chinese people may be just a very common trend, basically because Chinese people who are into fashion are quicker at finding new trends compared to other countries.
AA: Since people find it hard to buy YEEZYs at retail price, I guess if you see people wearing them, mostly likely they are either rich, don't care about money or they are die hard fans.
Are fake YEEZYs popular in China? If so, which model is bootlegged the most?
HL: Like any luxury product, YEEZY fakes are proliferated solely to give access to those unable to purchase authentic, sought-after items. This creates a real need for YEEZY bootlegs, and as imitations become more popular, we will only see a market that is even hungrier for future releases, as the bootlegs almost act as free marketing.
PW: I wouldn't say fake YEEZYs are popular in China, but there is definitely a large market in China for them, mainly for non-sneakerheads who want to join the trend. The most popular fake would be YEEZY 350s, mainly turtle doves and pirate blacks.
AA: Fake YEEZYs are really popular in Hong Kong, since people are buying YEEZYs for reselling and not all of the people can afford to pay $7000-$15000 HKD ($900 - $1,900 USD) to buy a pair, that's why they will buy a pair of high-quality fake ones instead. Real YEEZYs are more for making money than to wear.
Do you think its easier to find fake YEEZYs in China versus the US or Europe?
HL: Yes, without a doubt due to China being the manufacturing capital of the world there is an overwhelming increase of counterfeit products from counterfeit nmd's to ultra boosts you can even go on weibo and see candids of the older generation wearing these counterfeits selling street food. This increase in counterfeits is a strong indication of Yeezy and adidas collective impact on the global marketplace.
PW: I personally think that it is much easier acquiring fakes in China compared to any other European country as Adidas's main production line is based in China, allowing them easy access and close contact with the real product. European stock would be also dependant on China's availabilities.
AA: I think fake Yeezys are everywhere! But of course it's more easier to find in China.
In your opinion, what was the most popular YEEZY sneaker drop in China? What about the least popular?
HL: All of them have equally been massive and unprecedented, there simply is not enough supply to meet the demands of the world. My hope is that the line will see wider distribution, and we will see that soon with the evolution of the YEEZY and adidas partnership.
PW: In my opinion the most popular Kanye West sneaker drop was the black/solar-red Air Yeezy 2 NRG. The least popular would be the Yeezy 950 boots.
AA: In my opinion, the most popular in Hong Kong is of course is the 750, the least popular would be the 950 boots.
Finally, are fakes getting better over time?
HL: China, as we all know, is the global production center of the world, but it is also the most aggressive source of counterfeit product manufacturing. I am not certain of how advanced and sophisticated counterfeiters are these days.
PW: The fake market is definitely doing well, and fakes are getting better, mainly due to the fact that the authentic ones are made in China too. So unreleased samples have appeared on the market more than once.
AA: Yes, I think so. Fakes have improved a lot.
Now check out the complete resell history of Kanye West sneakers.