Kanye West announced his (alleged) 2020 presidential bid this weekend, and he’s not done making civic headlines. Today, the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration released the list of companies that have requested and received money to save jobs and protect wages during the coronavirus pandemic. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin originally planned to keep the list confidential, but many Democrats loudly demanded more transparency in the process. As a result, all companies that have received more than $ 150,000 are named — and the loading of the publicly available spreadsheet opens a treasure chest of information. Perhaps the most notable name on the list is the company owned by none other than the galactic-minded presidential rapper-designer, first spotted by NBC News reporter Leticia Miranda.
Yeezy applied for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, which itself is part of the CARES Act, which came into effect in late March. The goal of the program was to distribute $ 350 billion to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which could then keep their employees on the payroll. Kanye’s brand received a loan in the range of $ 2-5 million, which went to 106 jobs, according to SBA calculations.
Over the past two years, the numbers surrounding Yeezy LLC have generated as much interest as the clothing itself. In the spring of 2018, Kanye tweeted that Yeezy “will hit $ 1 billion this year” and claimed that the brand was on the way to becoming a “decacorne”, a make-up word used to describe companies valued at over $ 10 billion. Achieving Decacorne status requires an annual turnover of $ 3 billion. At the time, John Kernan, a retail analyst who covers Adidas for Cowen, told GQ: “I find it hard to believe [Yeezy’s] generating over a billion in sales. When Kanye officially crossed the billionaire mark earlier this year, the title that came with it by Forbes was, “Kanye West is now officially a billionaire (and he really wants the world to know that)”.
So much attention is paid to Yeezy’s numbers because that’s how Kanye seems to judge Yeezy – by the numbers. Less than a year after releasing his very first Yeezy with Adidas, Kanye rapped, “Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman.” He tweeted that he is the “highest paid person in the shoe business”, earning even more than Michael Jordan. And earlier this year, of course, he landed that coveted billionaire status.
Now Kanye is running a business seemingly worthy of his place on the Forbes list. For a small American clothing brand – Yeezy sneakers are produced by Adidas – 106 is a lot of work! In the same tweet promising to achieve decacorne status from 2018, Kanye said, “We have 160 vacancies by the end of the year.” (For what it’s worth, the Better Business Bureau currently ankles The number of Yeezy employees at 101.) Forget the loan, or the presidential campaign. This is the news: Yeezy is operating in the stadium that Kanye prophesied two years ago.
For comparison, we can look elsewhere in the world of fashion and retail. Kith received a loan in the same range as Yeezy which allowed the brand to retain 254 jobs. Untuckit has secured loans between 5 and 10 million dollars to rescue 921 works. These numbers are very different due to the store fleets operated by these brands: Untuckit has over 80 locations and Kith has four huge stores. Yeezy does not have a physical retail operation—but he has a team of architects who are building the future of human dwellings in Wyoming and Calabasas.
The reason Democrats like Chuck Schumer demanded transparency in the PPP process in the first place was to make sure nothing fishy happened between the companies and a Trump administration known for distribute favors to friends. The PPP program has already enriched powerful fragmentary enterprises, such as those operated by members of the Kushner family. The most striking thing about Yeezy’s loan, it seems, is not that it was granted to someone who is publicly linked to Trump, is that Kanye’s company had 106 jobs to save in the first place.