Clothes Resale Giant The RealReal Bans Kanye West’s YeezysOctober 25, 2022
Several hours after Adidas announced it was ending its multibillion-dollar Yeezy partnership with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, The RealReal, one of the largest clothing resale markets in the world, said that it would ban sellers from listing Yeezys.
In recent days, brands across the spectrum have been cutting ties with Ye over his repeated antisemitic comments: Among others, Balenciaga, Gap, and now Adidas dropped him, while CAA, his talent agency, also broke with him and Vogue said it would no longer work with him.
Earlier this month, Ye’s activity was restricted on Twitter and Instagram after he posted antisemitic content, including a threat to go “death con 3” on Jewish people. Motherboard obtained and published portions of Ye’s interview with Tucker Carlson that were not aired on Carlson’s Fox News program, in which he made repeated antisemitic statements and suggested that the Louis Vuitton brand had killed his friend, the designer Virgil Abloh. After that, he went on the Drink Champs podcast and made still more antisemitic remarks, as well as claiming falsely that George Floyd died of a drug overdose, something over which Floyd’s family announced it would file a $250 million lawsuit.
Adidas’ Yeezys are some of the most influential and lucrative sneakers on the market; new Yeezys sold for anywhere from $200 to more than $500, and resale prices are typically even higher.
"Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "Ye's recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company's values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
Immediately after the Adidas announcement, Motherboard emailed 15 popular clothing and sneaker marketplaces to ask how they would handle Ye’s antisemitic comments. The RealReal, which bills itself as the “world’s largest online marketplace for authentic, consigned luxury goods,” told Motherboard that it would be immediately banning new listings of Yeezys.
The RealReal says it has more than 28 million shoppers and currently has 19 brick-and-mortar retail stores in addition to its website. It operates on a consignment model where people send their clothes to The RealReal for authentication and appraisal by a team of humans and then to be sold via the company's website or stores; the sellers then get a cut of the profits. There are still hundreds of Yeezy products listed on its site ranging in price from about $50 to $1,600, but the company said it wouldn’t allow any more.
“Over the past 11 years, The RealReal has celebrated the diverse community that we have built, and we are wholeheartedly proud to be a part of. Since our founding, we’ve been committed to creating a safe space for every employee, consignor and customer—regardless of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and race—and we will not tolerate any disparaging remarks that demonstrate discrimination or calls for violence,” a spokesperson for The RealReal told Motherboard. “As such, the recent offensive comments that Kanye West made regarding the Jewish community are not only offensive, but go against absolutely everything that we stand for and believe in. As such, in response to these antisemitic messages and his actions, we are no longer accepting items associated with Kanye West or his brand, including Yeezy and Yeezy x Adidas. We represent consignors not brands, and since we have already accepted and listed these items prior to when the event took place, we will not accept any future items. We stand with equality and acceptance of everyone, and will continue to promote a safe and supportive marketplace for our members.”
This is notable because Yeezys have become a collectible item, with a healthy secondary market and an ecosystem of bots and resellers who have competed with each other to buy new pairs of Yeezys the moment they go on sale. Yeezys are a large part of the sneaker secondary market, with sites like Project Blitz and Flight Club having entire sections for the shoes. Meanwhile, sites like StockX and GOAT have a handful of Yeezys on their front page (none of these companies responded to a request for comment).
A spokesperson for DePop, another massive resale marketplace, told Motherboard that it is “not currently sharing any internal data on Yeezy at this time.” Grailed, Mercari, Poshmark, and eBay also did not respond to requests for comment.
Adidas, for its part, seems to have started the process of removing any trace of the Yeezy brand from its website. A search bar on its site still auto-populates with various types of Yeezy shoes, but product pages for each seem to have been taken down, and searches for the shoes turn up no results. One of several of Adidas’s Yeezy pages now auto redirects to Confirmed, an app that the company uses for sneaker sales, while a “News” page for Yeezys still seemingly exists as normal and lists a couple different recent Yeezy releases.
It's highly unlikely that Yeezys will ever really go away, not just because of the existence of loosely-moderated platforms for selling used goods, but because some on the right will do anything to own the libs. Previously, that has meant burning Nikes, or buying New Balances. Yeezys can now be added to that list of footwear for culture warriors.