Anyone who tried to buy Adidas’ latest Yeezy release this past Saturday — the $300 Boost 700 “Wave Runners” — encountered two things: an unfathomable number of people trying to do the same, and the shadowy, anonymously-run @theyeezymafia Twitter account dispensing more pertinent info than Adidas itself.
According to a recent GQ story, the unaffiliated, sometimes-maligned, Twitter-verified, often prophetic Yeezy Mafia might be just as important to Adidas’ marketing strategy as their paid, hired marketing team is – although, Adidas probably wouldn’t admit that.
“For both branding and legal reasons, Yeezy Mafia operates in a haze of mystery. It’s a Twitter account, but it’s also a collective of folks best described as e-commerce hackers,” author Jake Woolf writes, noting that over time, the account has “become a legitimate source for all things Yeezy, hitting its [million-plus] followers with exact Yeezy release dates and forthcoming colorways months ahead of time.”
Using information culled from source code on websites, factory workers in China, store owners worldwide and elsewhere — but never, according to the story, Adidas themselves — the Yeezy Mafia has basically become the Maggie Haberman (or Adrian Wojnarowski, for those into basketball) of the hyped sneaker world, brokering information that basically no one else has access to.
Launched in 2016 and led by a “20-something who was born and raised in France,” the account has morphed from a “cart seller” — someone that sells bots that make it easier to buy hyped goods — into one of the most influential marketing platforms in a multi-billion dollar industry.
(I’m just going to give that a second to sink in.)
As Woolf writes, “Yeezy Mafia might even provide the best press Adidas could ask for,” offering both customers and journalists ”a look into the increasingly opaque world of sneakers, serving as a resource when Adidas can’t or won’t be one.”
And though the relationship is “necessarily contentious,” and will probably only become more so, given that the account “has effectively anointed [itself] vice president of marketing for Adidas,” if Yeezy releases keep selling out in minutes with the Yeezy Mafia’s help, it’s doubtful Adidas will try to shut them down.
You can read more about it at GQ.