Collectors in UAE hold on to Yeezys as brands boycott Kanye West

The future of 'sneaker culture' is also uncertain following the acrimonious split between adidas and the rapper

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Members of the UAE's thriving shoe collectors scene are choosing to wait instead of selling off their hauls of the hugely popular Yeezy shoes.

On Wednesday, Google searches for the phrase "sell Yeezy" skyrocketed by 581 per cent according to data commissioned by Celeb Tattler, following news that adidas was severing ties with the brand's founder Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

Months after saying it was putting the relationship "under review", the German sportswear retailer announced it had decided to end the hugely successful partnership with Ye on Tuesday, following a series of anti-Semitic comments.

“Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other sort of hate speech," adidas said. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness."

The break-up has created a morass over the future of the brand, valued to be between $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion by investment bank UBS Group. It has also set off a flurry of activities within shoe collector communities, many of whom buy, hold and resell Yeezy models for huge sums of money.

"The entire shoe reselling market was built around Yeezys. It was the brand that started it all," says Kevin Ghassemi, founder of online shoe reselling store Snkr Bubble.

Ghassemi, 18, who turned his hobby into a thriving business in Dubai last year, says he's holding on to his 50-plus pairs of Yeezys for now because he believes demand will rise.

Kevin Ghassemi founded Snkr Bubble in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

"Prices will go up at least by 50 per cent," he tells The National. "In the last few years, the market has been saturated with Yeezys because they've been releasing so many models and colourways, which led to the brand's value going down.

"But now that production will stop, the brand will be more hyped."

A collector in Dubai, who prefers to be called Foundamatch Marvs, says the split between Ye and adidas is great for resellers because it will increase the price of their existing stock.

"I am going to keep my shoes for a while and sell when the price is right," he says.

Collector Foundamatch Marvs says he's going to hold on to his collection of Yeezys and sell them 'when the price is right'. Photo: Foundamatch Marvs

Shoe collectors in the UAE and elsewhere prefer to keep a low profile as reselling for profit is frowned upon by retailers, although it is now a multi-million dollar industry globally.

Ridwane Ettoubi, the co-founder and chief executive of Presentedby, the luxury sneaker consignment brand, predicts it will take about 12 to 18 months for the prices of Yeezys to "substantially increase".

Presentedby sells a range of highly coveted, luxury and limited-edition shoes and streetwear at its stores in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh, as well as London and Paris.

Yeezys displayed at the Presentedby store in The Dubai Mall. Photo: Presentedby

How exactly the divide between adidas and Ye will affect the intellectual property rights of the Yeezy brand remains to be seen, however. While Ye’s company, Mascotte Holdings Inc, holds a portfolio of more than 160 trademarked applications and registrations for his Yeezy brand, adidas owns the rights to the designs of most Yeezy shoes, including the well-known Yeezy Boost 350, according to Bloomberg.

Adidas said it would end production of Yeezy-branded products and stop all payments to Ye immediately, a move that would cost adidas a loss of approximately $247 million in net income. The Yeezy collaboration is responsible for as much as 8 per cent of adidas's revenue.

One shoe industry insider who did not wish to be named, tells The National that a market without Yeezys will cause "a huge shift in sneaker culture".

"Because Kanye West products were really the starting point of the whole reselling culture, the reselling industry could also die," he says. "Nike is flooding the market with greater allocations of stock of Jordan 1s and Dunks due to the closure of Russian stores and the China restrictions caused by Covid-19."

For now, the insider says, it's best for collectors to hold on to their stocks.

"We don’t know if Yeezys will gain value or completely disintegrate, but it's worth the risk," he says.

Updated: October 27, 2022, 11:06 AM
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