The unreleased samples first made their debut at the 2008 Grammys.
In 2009, Kanye West’s first Nike Air Yeezy, released in three colorways, was one of the hottest sneaker releases of the year—and set off a hype firecracker for all things ‘Ye and fashion that hasn’t cooled down yet. But the release didn’t come out of nowhere: Rumors about the kicks had at that point been brewing for over a year. In 2008, during an emotionally charged performance at the Grammys (which came just months after West’s mother Donda passed away), West debuted an early version of what would eventually become the Air Yeezy. The kicks featured an all black upper and glow-in-the-dark outsole (in line with West’s Glow in the Dark Tour from 2007-8), but they never hit shelves. Now, a pair of the ultra rare kicks has surfaced on Flight Club—for the jaw-dropping price of $100,000.
Now, is 100 stacks an obscene amount to pay for sneakers, no matter how rare they are? Of course. But think about all the dumb stuff collectors drop money on, like sweaty game-worn basketball jerseys, or artwork crafted by famous artists’ 22-year-old studio assistants. Chances are if you’ve got 100 stacks to blow on sneakers, you’ve actually got 100 stacks to blow on sneakers. And chances are also that, not unlike a fine bottle of wine, years down the line these will be worth even more. But if you’re thinking about going to your local bank to take out a high interest loan to cop these kicks, then, well, you may have a problem.
But forget the actual buying part. Because when we’re talking sneakers in 2017, we’re talking about hype. And it’s hard to imagine an sneaker being more at the eye of a perfect storm of hype than these Air Yeezy samples. Kanye West no longer works with Nike and has since gone on to create a mini hype empire at Adidas. More importantly, these sneakers represent not only an iconic moment in footwear, but one of the most memorable Grammy performances of all time, all of which contribute to their price. In fact, it would almost feel weirder if someone was selling them for a non-insane amount. And if you’d like to scoop up some other Yeezys from Kanye’s Nike era, they can be purchased for the (relatively) reasonable price of around $5,000. Which is starting to sound like a bargain.