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Nike Air Yeezy 2 sneakers by Kanye West start shopping frenzy

By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Women salivate over Manolo Blahnik heels. Men covet Nike Air Yeezy 2 sneakers.

The limited-edition shoe, designed by rapper Kanye West, has already attracted long lines and frenzied online bidding for thousands of dollars. The shoe goes on sale Saturday at a retail price of $245.

Only about 3,000 to 5,000 pairs will be released, and sneaker collectors — known as “sneakerheads” — are anxiously awaiting the chance to add the shoes to their closets or resell them for a plump profit.

On Wednesday, a pair of pre-ordered Yeezy 2 kicks listed on online auction site were marked “sold” with a winning bid of $90,300. Other auctions drew offers ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.

As a point of comparison, a pair of sequined Blahnik slingbacks can be had for $400 on the auction site, and nude Jimmy Choo sandals for $375.

Nike is known for selling special styles of sneakers in limited quantities, inspiring a fevered reaction among die-hard fans. The release of the Air Jordan XI — a model once worn by basketball legend Michael Jordan — drew hundreds and sometimes thousands of shoppers in December to shoe shops around the country.

Many shoe stores have learned a thing or two since the 2009 release of the first Yeezy shoe, West’s debut collaboration with Nike, which drew huge crowds.

Some have adopted a raffle system to discourage rabid fans from camping outside stores overnight, and others are encouraging shoppers to enter similar drawings via Twitter.

Julio Martinez, the manager of Blends shoe store in downtown Los Angeles, said “mass chaos” during the release of the first Yeezy convinced him that he should implement a raffle. The store probably will get only about a dozen or so pairs of the coveted shoe, he said.

“Last time, people were lined up around the block and sleeping outside,” Martinez said. “It’s crazy everywhere. We are trying to keep it as calm as possible.”

On Thursday night, about 150 shoppers queued up outside the store to put their names in a drawing.

Jason Woods, 26, a security officer at LAX, said he planned to hit about five stores Saturday to increase the odds of adding the Yeezy 2 to his collection of more than 100 sneakers.

“It’s about the name, it’s about the fashion, it’s about Kanye West,” Woods said.

His friend, Larry Stenson, 35, nodded in agreement. “Fashion is everything!” he shouted.

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