By Britt Terrell
Kanye West's controversial remarks on Twitter may have helped President Trump's standing among black men, as the president bragged last week, and the rapper's outspokenness seems to have boosted interest in his own Yeezy sneaker line, according to a GQ fashion reporter.
Searches, likes, and online bids for previously owned pairs of Yeezy sneakers spiked after West tweeted last month about the "dragon energy" he and his "brother" Trump share. It was a viral marketing coup that only someone as enigmatic as West ー or maybe Trump ー could have pulled off, said GQ's Cam Wolf.
"It's really shocking," said Wolf in an interview Monday with Cheddar. He expected West's sneakers to tank, much like L.L. Bean and New Balance saw their images take a hit when members of those companies publicly backed Trump. But instead, Wolf said he found consumers were higher on Yeezy than they had been since 2017.
Wolf credited West's ability to confound his critics and energize his loyal fans by creating an us-against-them scenario similar to the way Trump appeals to his base.
"He's not uncomfortable with making other people uncomfortable," Wolf said of West, adding that the rapper's brand has "always kind of subsisted on hype."
The flood of publicity ー and controversy ー around West's embrace of Trump appears to have helped both men.
At a speech last week to the National Rifle Association meeting in Dallas, Trump thanked West and lauded his "power" for helping double president's favorability rating among black men from 11 to 22 percent.
Whether the public interest in West is positive or negative, the attention he garners in these trending moments appear to boost his brand's visibility, said Wolf. It may not work for most brands, but it does for West, he said.
L.L. Bean faced calls by consumers to boycott the brand after it was reported in 2017 that Linda Bean, the granddaughter of the company's founder, donated to a pro-Trump political action committee. And Matt LeBretton, the vice president of public affairs for the sportswear brand New Balance, appeared to praise Trump's policies on trade, leading to a social media outcry.
How long the positive effects of West's bold statements will last remains to be seen. Wolf's reporting was done before the rapper's comments about slavery being a "choice" received widespread attention.
For full interview, click here.