This weekend, on June 30th, we have the general release of the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Butter”. This is the first Yeezy 350 to hit the market since the Blue Tint release last winter. And it comes at a perilous moment for Kanye’s larger sneaker project with adidas. According to reports, Kanye plans to dramatically ramp up the supply of future Yeezys, in an attempt to popularize and democratize his brand and make Ye footwear available to everyone.

In addition, Kanye himself has recently weathered an unusually kinetic stretch of social media controversy, and it remains to be seen what damage might have been done. In this context, it is interesting to read the pre-release tea-leaves and consider what the early price data on the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Butter might imply for the Kanye brand.

Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Butter: Pre-Release Prices

Thus far, pre-release sales of the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Butter have been brisk. We are now less than two days away from Saturday’s general release, and the Yeezy is currently the top-selling sneaker on our marketplace, out-pacing the next bestseller by more than 2:1. Currently, the average price per pair is $350, or $120 over retail.

That may seem like a decent profit margin. Yet traditionally, early Yeezy 350 sales have been one of the richest bets for resellers. Consider the last 3 Yeezy 350s to hit the market, and how much they sold for in their first 500 sales on Stockx.

In their first 500 sales, the Blue Tint 350s had an average price premium of 100%; the Beluga 2.0s had an average price premium of 150%, and the Semi Frozen Yellows had an average price premium of 300%. By contrast, the Yeezy 350 Butter has an average price premium of just 65%. By this metric, the Butter is vastly underperforming the expectations of 350 history.

Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Butter: Price Trajectory

To get a better sense of how early Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Butter sales measure up, let’s look at how they’ve changed over time, and how that compares to other recent Yeezy releases.
As you can see from the graph above, the low price premiums for the Butter Yeezy is consistent with the performance of the two most recent Yeezy colorways – the Yeezy 500 ‘Blush’ and ‘Super Moon’.  All three are far behind the average 350 colorway- represented by the black line. The average 350 has started out with exceptionally high price premiums, and only gradually declined over their first thousand sales.

By contrast, after 500 sales, the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Butter is quite close to where the Blush and Super Moon were after their 500th sale. The Blush was at 80% and the Super Moon was at 40%; the Butter is right in between, with a 60% price premium.

Changing Expectations

While the premium levels are similar, the premium trajectory of the Butter is quite different than the Blush and Super Moon. In their earliest, first-100 sales, prices for the Blush and Super Moon were quite high. The Blush started out with a price premium over 200%, and the Super Moon wasn’t far behind.

However, prices for both colorways crashed as supply picked up; after the first few hundred sales, they were both selling for less than double retail. By contrast, the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Butter never commanded sky-high prices, even when the very first pairs hit the market. The price premium started out at 90%, and only gradually declined as supply picked up.

Perhaps this is because expectations have shifted. Like buyers of previous 350s, the early buyers of the Blush and Super Moon may have believed that prices would remain high, and were thus willing to pay a premium early on. By contrast, Butter buyers never expected premiums to be anything but middling.

All of which suggests that we may have entered a new phase of Yeezy resale: the end of an era of big pre-release paydays, where prices and profits are consistently low but steady. What caused the change remains unclear. Is it a function of increasing sneaker supply, or rather some dramatic diminution of Kanye’s personal brand? The answer has important implications – for the performance of Butter prices after release day, but also the long-term viability of the entire Yeezy project.