At the top of the sneaker game, two iconic brands are facing off: Kanye West’s Yeezy line with adidas and Nike’s Air Jordans. In many ways, it’s a David and Goliath story, as the greatest current rapper challenges the shoe made for the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan.
Kanye seems certain he can overtake the Jordan brand. He’s certainly saying as much with the lyrics to “Facts,” on which he claims that he’s “jumped over the Jumpman,” and that “if Nike ain’t had Drizzy man they would have nothing.”
But when it comes down to it, does Kanye have a chance at overtaking the most popular sneaker brand of all time? We wanted to find out, so we took a look at the numbers to answer the question...
Buzz on social media often leads to sneaker sales. But while Kanye sports over 22 million Twitter followers, Michael Jordan doesn’t use social media at all. Although they’re not the same thing, popularity on socials and overall cachet often run hand in hand.
In “Facts,” Kanye West declares that Jordan Brand would be nothing without Don C. and Drake, who’ve both had signature kicks in the past year. Rappers and fashion designers have been known to drive hype and resale prices on shoes in the secondary market. Drake and Don C’s sneakers both have high resale prices, but Kanye’s sneakers top both of them.
Winner: Jordan Brand
Although Kanye’s sneakers fetch high sums on the secondary market, there are Air Jordans that go for much higher amounts. For example, the 2015 Eminem Carhartt Jordan 4s go for $21,237 on the resale market.
Sneaker prices soar with demand, and premium shoes just cost more. Even if you’re new to the industry, it’s obvious that the most coveted sneakers have the highest retail tags. The prices of both limited Air Jordans and Kanye’s Yeezys reflect that. It’s hard to say who wins here, because the shoes sell for pretty much the same price.
We know this is a fucked up question to ask, but all claims aside, there’s a bit of the “proof is in the pudding” here. Kanye himself is talking about his money woes, claiming on Feb. 13 that he's sunk $53 million into his endeavors, although Kim Kardashian claimed she'd transferred that amount to their joint account a month later. Michael Jordan has had no such drama, and just made the Forbes billionaire list for the second year in a row.
Winner: Jordan Brand
It’s up to you to decide whether seniority matters, but with 30 years in the game—compared with Kanye’s one—it’s clear that Jordan Brand has the upper hand when it comes to experience.
Kanye and adidas are driving hype amongst a core group of sneaker aficionados, but that’s hard to quantify on a mass scale. They’re building their partnership the right way, and the world has their eyes on whatever they’re going to do next.
Here’s what’s not up for debate: Even if Kanye is crushing the resale market, Nike and Air Jordan are making and selling more total units.
Jordan Brand is still king of the sneaker world. Sorry Kanye. We still love you.