Building a luxury brand is difficult.
But luxury brands are the way of the future (better margins, stronger branding, improved longevity, cultural relevance, increased desirability—I want to explain this more in another piece!); every business will need to be or own an upscale brand, the same way that Toyota has Lexus, and Honda has Acura.
Yeezy offers a luxury brand as a service; the “halo effect” it has created through its designs, product innovations, and branding, makes it extremely valuable for corporate partners who have never managed to create that for themselves.
Since what Yeezy offers is so scarce—effectively a turnkey luxury brand, like Yeezy Adidas (Yeezy Gap is a little slower!)—it’s an expensive deal for corporate partners that’ll involve royalties, equity, and creative and product control. (Consider Yeezy McDonald’s!)
The problem with Yeezy as a brand is its luxury positioning will weaken if it becomes available for mass distribution, which is why Adidas imitated Yeezy’s slide designs with its Adilette slide.
I suspect this is why the Stem Player and Donda are both separate, and emerging, brands. But, it could also just be convenient for corporate development (Donda for the athletic vertical, like Donda Academy and Donda Sports).
It’ll be fascinating to watch how Yeezy will achieve its goal of being something more like Muji, Ikea, or Uniqlo, while combining its luxury positioning and sensibilities.
This piece deserves way longer treatment. I hope it’ll be the starting point for something else.