Kanye West once rapped “Yeezy, the newest billion-dollar baby.” Turns out, he’s on track to hit another half a billion more.
On the cover of Forbes‘ latest issue, the entertainment mogul spoke at length about the trajectory of his fashion empire, which made its official debut four years ago.
According to the money magazine, West’s footwear partnership with Adidas is expected to top $1.5 billion in sales by the end of the year — putting it in competition with Nike’s 34-year-old Jordan Brand, which rakes in about $3 billion in annual revenues. (The sneaker line originally launched with Nike in 2009 and began doing business with Adidas in 2013, with its first drop in 2015.)
“I am a product guy at my core,” he said in the interview. “To make products that make people feel an immense amount of joy and solve issues and problems in their life — that’s the problem-solving that I love to do.”
Arguably the line’s most pervasive silhouette is the Yeezy Boost 350, which accounts for a majority of the cult-favorite brand’s sales. (The Yeezy Boost was named FN’s Shoe of the Year in 2015.)
Last September, Adidas mass-released the V2 “Triple White,” allowing an unprecedented number of fans direct access to the highly coveted brand at retail price. (The sneakers can cost anywhere from $200 to upwards of $600 at resale.)
The sportswear giant hailed the drop as a major commercial success, with millions of visits on its website as well as media mentions and search interest that surpassed previous Yeezy releases.
“Right now, we’re just trying to make sure that we keep bringing really hot footwear into the market to drive the brand [and], at the same time, drive volume primarily around the 350 shoe,” CEO Kasper Rorsted said in a March interview. “While [Yeezy product is] important from the business standpoint, it’s really important from a brand-building standpoint. Kanye is not an American brand; Kanye is a global brand, and Yeezy is a global brand, so we’re looking upon it as a brand driver more than a business driver for us, and that will be the case also for 2019.”
Forbes ranked West as the third highest-earning celebrity in the past year, taking home an estimated $150 million in pre-tax pay, largely thanks to Yeezy.
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