Nike Air Yeezy
Nike Air Yeezy. (Photo courtesy of

by Adrian Willis

For years, if not decades, athletic sneakers have been worn, as well as marketed and sold by athletes. As time progresses, we see more and more celebrities with their own sneaker lines, in addition to contracts with big name sneaker companies. From this we can expect a complete change in marketing from big sneaker companies. We have seen more and more of a change in the sneaker industry as time has passed.

This story surely goes back further, but we’ll start from the year 2009 when hip hop artist Kanye West designed a sneaker with Nike named the Nike Air Yeezy. The Nike Air Yeezy retailed for $250 and sold out in less than 15 minutes from its release across America and Europe. The Nike Air Yeezy became Nike’s top selling and fastest selling product in 2009. The only product that came close to selling out at the same rate was a pair of Nike’s Jordan brand sneakers.

The resale value for the Nike Air Yeezy on second-hand internet markets was about the same price as mortgaging a small house. Kanye West and Nike have since created another sneaker called the Nike Air Yeezy 2. Upon its release in 2012, the Yeezy 2 sold as well as, if not better than, the Yeezy 1. This created a bigger role for pop culture in its involvement with sneakers.

In 2010 rapper and producer Swizz Beatz became creative director of Reebok. Since then Swizz Beatz and Reebok have created a new sneaker and overall sales of Reebok has escalated.

Adidas has signed many pop culture figures to sneaker deals. The list incudes, but is not limited to: singer Teyana Taylor with the creation of the Adidas Harlem GLC; rapper 2 Chainz with the creation of Adidas Top Ten “2 Good to be T.R.U;” rapper Big Sean with the Adidas Pro Model 2; and singer-song writer, and producer Pharrell Williams with an upcoming Adidas sneaker.

Because so many pop culture icons are signing deals with major sneaker companies, it now takes a lot more than knowing how to bounce a ball to design and brand your own sneaker.