It had already been a whirlwind week for Justin Reed. He had just launched a new e-commerce website for his consignment business, and making sure everything was running smoothly was keeping him plenty busy. Then, a former client reached out on behalf of a friend—they had something that Reed might be interested in selling. It was a Kanye West “Donda” vest—one of the standout fashion pieces from the second Donda listening party at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was also one of the rarer vests from the night: heavy-duty, hand-painted, and signed by the ultra-famous rapper himself. In fact, this particular vest was a gift from West to a security guard who was there—and if the price was right, he was willing to part ways with it.
“I got on the phone with him, and he was telling me the full story of how flew into Atlanta with a rapper he works with and how he was at the event for a week or so,” Reed says. “At first, he was pretty hesitant to send the vest to me here in Los Angeles. I understood it; he doesn’t know me.” This was business as usual for Reed: as a consigner, he’s used to sending out prepaid FedEx mailers across the country and selling big-ticket, high-value items like this. But he also really wanted to make this deal happen. He offered to send a New York-based employee to pick up the vest in person and pay out a cash advance as a sign of good faith. The client agreed, and the vest was soon on its way to Reed’s studio in LA.
Reed breathed a sigh of relief when he finally had the vest in his possession, but now came the most crucial part: actually selling it. First, he had to figure out how much he should sell it for. Kanye anything commands a hefty rate on the open market, but this was a unique item—it wasn’t like he could check StockX for comparative sales and figure out the median price. “I was originally going to price it for around $10,000. Maybe a bit more,” Reed says. After taking the photos for his website, he decided to post them to his Instagram—and then things took off.
Reposts ricocheted across Instagram, from different West fan accounts and streetwear blogs, all boosted by the algorithm. Before he knew it, Reed had thousands of new Instagram followers and saw a surge of traffic to his website. Reed says he was even approached by someone from one of the big auction houses. (Not a huge surprise there, as in recent years legacy auction houses have sprinted towards streetwear-adjacent art and accessories to court younger buyers. Recall Sotheby’s comprehensive collection of Supreme skate decks that sold for $800,000, or Christie’s “Handbags x Hype” sale that pulled in over $2.1 million.)
The amount of engagement and action let him know that he had something special on his hands. At the last minute, Reed decided to list it at double his initial estimate. The very same evening it was listed, Reed says, the vest had already sold to a collector in New York—for $20,000.