What in the World—Week of November 14

Not your average Value Village steal
This probably says something about the power of brand, though we’re not sure what. An old pair of Steve Jobs’ Birkenstocks sold for $218,750 on the weekend. Prior to the sale, the California auction house Julien’s Auctions described the sandals as “well used” but still “intact,” and said the “cork and jute footbed retains the imprint of Steve Jobs’ feet, which had been shaped after years of use.” The sandals were initially expected to go for about $60,000, but the final sale price is the highest ever paid for a pair of sandals. “These beloved Birkenstocks were worn by Jobs as he made history in the making of the Apple computer and were the tech icon’s signature staple,” said Julien’s of the sandals, which were pulled from the garbage by a former house manager.

Drake and 21 Savage sued over Vogue cover
In the days leading up to the release of their album Her, rappers Drake and 21 Savage put out a series of stunts on social media—including an NPR Tiny Desk concert and a performance on Saturday Night Live. There was also a fake Vogue cover, which Anna Wintour was apparently not happy about. Now Vogue publisher Condé Nast has filed a trademark lawsuit seeking millions in damages. Mark P. McKenna, a law professor at UCLA, told NPR that lawyers for Drake and 21 Savage could claim the fake cover was a parody, though the legal case could also be part of the marketing strategy. “There was a sort of calculated risk being made here,” said McKenna. “[E]ven if the court orders them to stop doing this, like they’ve already done it, they’ve gotten the attention. I think that’s why Vogue is trying to seek money: to make it painful enough for people so that they won’t do it.” And speaking of big brands and rappers….

Adidas to sell Ye’s designs minus Yeezy branding
…Just weeks after cutting ties with Ye over antisemitic remarks, Adidas announced that it plans to continue selling apparel and shoes developed with the former Kanye West, minus the Yeezy name and branding. According to CNN, Adidas said that it is the sole owner of the design rights for both current and future Yeezy products. Selling the products under its own name will save the company approximately $300 million a year in royalty payments and marketing fees. Yeezy generated approximately $2 billion in sales for Adidas last year, representing nearly 8% of its sales. The products also attracted customers who bought non-Yeezy merchandise. However, apparel analyst Darcey Jupp said that Adidas should not continue to sell the products, saying they will forever be synonymous with West and result in “muted” customer demand.

Will move to Amazon help or hurt the Gap?
The Gap has officially launched its own store on Amazon in Canada and the U.S. While Gap stock has been up sharply since making the announcement on Thursday, some retail experts see the move as more evidence the brand is in trouble. Not only does selling on Amazon mean giving up a percentage of sales, it also gives Amazon more data it can use for its own in-house brands. “[I]t is not a decision that a clothing brand—especially such a household name—would make unless its business outlook is looking very bleak,” said Jinjoo Lee in The Wall Street Journal. Neil Saunders, a retail expert at GlobalData, told Modern Retail that the move could help revive the Gap’s slumping sales, but won’t solve a larger problem: “The wider issue here is the same as it has always been, namely that there is not enough newness or innovation in the [Gap] range,” he said.

Netflix showing interest in sports
Netflix was the OG of OTT streaming that blew up the broadcast TV business model, and now it’s getting into the live sports game. Netflix won’t be showing NFL or NHL games any time soon, though. Instead, for now it’s exploring less costly offerings like the ATP tennis tour in some European countries, and the U.K. rights to women’s tennis and cycling competitions. It also explored buying the World Surf League. According to The Wall Street Journal, some Netflix executives believe that given its size, it could “turn lesser-known sports like surfing into big franchises, and create new sporting tournaments or events.” The interest in live sports comes as Netflix struggles to find new revenue streams after years of rapid growth. That has included the introduction of advertising, with sports one of the last remaining content options that people still watch live with commercials.

David Brown