On Oct. 29, Kanye West finally released his highly anticipated adidas Originals Yeezy Season 1 collection. Despite the hefty prices and initial criticism from both the general public and the fashion industry, West’s collection flew off the shelves.
Retailers across the globe—in Europe, Asia, North America, and the Middle East—picked up several styles from the line, and across the board, they told us that West’s Yeezy Season 1 has been a home run.
"Yeezy Season 1 has been one of the fastest selling brands on Farfetch this season," says Candice Fragis, Buying and Merchandising Director at Farfetch, an international fashion website that stocks products from 300 independent boutiques around the world.
Robert Rosenthal, co-owner of Cleveland menswear store Xhibition, agrees: "It was spectacular, well-received, consumers were really enthusiastic, they loved the product."
Lines formed outside of Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship store on Thursday morning. Customers had to secure a wristband on Wednesday night to shop the collection. According to Ryan Williams, Assistant Buyer at Toronto menswear shop Nomad, there was also a queue outside their store.
Fragis says that 80 percent of the collection sales at Farfetch came from menswear. According to her, the runaway was the 950 Boot, which sold out within the first three hours of going live on the site. Farfetch will carry the Yeezy Boost 350 sneakers on Nov. 14, and expect those to sell out just as fast.
The 950 Boot, which West has been spotted wearing, was also the best seller for other retailers. Giovanni De Marchi, head of marketing at Italian retailer Slam Jam, says the boot sold out in a few minutes. Tom Kalenderian, Executive Vice President and General Merchandise Manager Men’s and Chelsea Passage at Barneys New York, says the black 950 Boot sold out nearly instantly, though all four colors sold out the first day.
It’s clear that what sold are the items West himself wore. "Everybody wants this collection for a piece of Kanye," says Williams. In addition to the boot, other top sellers included the camo T-shirt and long sleeve, hoodies, short and long sleeve crewnecks—pieces that West wore ahead of the release.
"We could’ve probably sold hundreds of the camo T-shirt if we had them. It was $235 and Kanye was seen in it a lot, which I think helped boost the sales of that as well," adds Rosenthal, who points out that the items that did sell were also the more affordable from the collection.
Still, there were a few surprises. De Marchi says he didn’t expect the $2,860 camo trench or the $2,600 destroyed knit sweater to sell. He was also shocked that the $2,080 bomber jacket wasn’t as in demand as he thought it’d be. "Maybe because there are so many MA1s in the market that people weren’t so excited about that style anymore," he explains.
Over at Nomad, Williams says there were some pieces that moved quicker than he anticipated. After this past weekend, days after the Thursday launch of Yeezy Season 1, three of the four black vests, priced at $1,285 at Nomad, were sold. Consumers also bought the oversized military half zip. "It’s a hard piece to wear," says Williams. "You would need to have a good sense of style and secure in yourself to wear it. But people were buying it."
Barneys picked up 18 styles in apparel, four boots, and five bags from the collection. "We edited the collection to suit the needs of the most fashion focused clients; those with an eye on designer fashion and with a pulse on what happens next," says Kalenderian. According to him, the retailer was well stocked to satisfy the demand, though in hindsight they would have gone deeper in some quantities, specifically the 950 Boot.
While other retailers also carried a decent number of styles—roughly between 16 and 25—most were careful not to carry huge inventories. "The price point of the collection was a little above our assortments’ average," says De Marchi, who adds that Slam Jam was a little prudent because the distribution of the line wasn’t exclusive. Slam Jam’s buyer made selections based on two main criteria: overall coherence throughout the store’s catalogue, and ensuring they had a few outfits close to what they felt was West’s style.
"It is expensive and Nomad isn’t Barneys, so we didn’t go too crazy," says Williams. He reveals that Nomad likely bought five or six units total for a piece, maybe 10 for a popular style, in smaller sizes (because the collection was generally over-sized) and often leaned more towards the affordable items because of the younger demographic of their consumers.
Most of the retailers and store owners we spoke to claim they had no hesitation to stock Yeezy Season 1 after seeing the prices. Sam Lobban, Buying Manager for Mr Porter, told us that being at the presentation during New York Fashion Week definitely helped. “I had gotten the full experience,” he says. “It was a powerful message, and we felt that there would definitely be a customer there for it.” He had to figure out how to break the collection down to wearable garments for the Mr Porter customer outside of the show styling, but once he worked through it it was an “easy decision.”
Williams admits he was nervous to carry the line at Nomad at first, especially after seeing the backlash online, but he knew there would be a customer for it, likening the collection to the success of Fear of God or Off-White—brands that are also relatively expensive. "When we get Fear of God, 90 percent of it sells out in one day," he says. "People are complaining about $250 T-shirts when Off-White T-shirts are $300 at Nomad, and they sell out."
Overall, West’s Yeezy Season 1 was a success. De Marchi says he hasn’t seen this much anticipation for a collection in the past. "Whether you love Kanye or not, you have to admit that everything he touches has got a kind of magic."
Xhibition’s Rosenthal shares De Marchi’s sentiment. "We’ve had a high level of excitement for a couple of Jordan releases, but I’d say this surpassed some of that excitement," he says. When asked if he believes Yeezy Season 1 could be more hyped than a Jordan release, Nomad’s William agrees. "I believe that," he says, adding that the media coverage of the line and West’s and adidas’ involvement in promotion contributed to the popularity of the collection.
Although Yeezy Season 2 doesn’t have a release date yet, and the apparel won’t be produced by adidas, every retailer we spoke to said they’ve already placed their orders for the upcoming collection.