What You Need To Know About Kanye West's Yeezy Brand

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What You Need To Know About Kanye West's Yeezy Brand
What You Need To Know About Kanye West's Yeezy Brand

Video: What You Need To Know About Kanye West's Yeezy Brand

Video: How Kanye West Built Yeezy 2022, November
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First design experience

In 2005, Kanye West, who had recently retrained from a producer to a rapper, decided to pursue another long-standing passion - design. As reported by Forbes magazine, which 15 years later calculated the income of the multiple Grammy winner and awarded him the status of a billionaire, in high school he often got into trouble for sketching sneakers in class. Young Kanye looked for inspiration in Japanese cyberpunk films, which his mother took him to watch, and in car dealerships, where his father told him about the advantages of Lamborghini. “Everything I do has a little Lamborghini,” the rapper later explained.

However, he began his career in fashion not with sneakers, but with clothes, founding Pastelle with the assistance of the current creative director of the Louis Vuitton men's line, Virgil Abloh. Kanye has walked models of his own production at musical ceremonies and fashion shows, but for the four years of the brand's existence, the release of a full-fledged collection has not taken place. In 2009, Pastelle officially ceased to exist, and Mr. West finally focused on developing sneakers. First, in collaboration with the Japanese brand Bape, rethinking the flagship model Bapesta, on which he applied a print with a teddy bear (in 2019, the pair was sold on the Grailed platform for $ 10,000). Then - with Louis Vuitton, making high-top sneakers with Velcro (they can still be bought at Farfetch for 590,388 rubles).The hype around the sneaker was not only driven by Kanye West's figure, but also by the design itself. “You’ll do something really strong in the world of shoes,” Kanye recalled the prophetic words of Edi Slimane, creative director of the Celine fashion house.

Sneakers designed by Kanye West in collaboration with Louis Vuitton
Sneakers designed by Kanye West in collaboration with Louis Vuitton

1 of 2 Sneakers designed by Kanye West in collaboration with Bape © press office Sneakers designed by Kanye West in collaboration with Louis Vuitton © press office

Love and hate with Nike

Seeing the potential in an aspiring designer, Nike approached Kanye West with an offer of collaboration. As a result, Air Yeezy sneakers were released in 2009, the name of which refers to the rapper nickname given to him by Jay Z. The novelty allowed Nike footwear to go beyond the equipment of professional athletes and popularize it among ordinary buyers, including fans of Kanye West. In 2012, he introduced new Air Yeezy colorways, and in 2014, the Air Yeezy 2 Red October, which became the final chord in his collaboration with Nike.

As the rapper later commented in an interview with Hot 97 radio station, the company refused to pay him sales royalties, despite the fact that Air Yeezys were as popular as Air Jordan. “[Air Jordan creator] Michael Jordan receives a 5% royalty on sales, earning $ 100 million annually. Nike said it couldn't pay me royalties as I'm not a professional athlete. But I'm an athlete, just on stage! The old me, who did not yet have a daughter, would agree to these conditions, because I really love Nike. But the new one I will accept the offer from adidas, because they guaranteed royalties that will allow me to provide for my family,”he said.

Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October
Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October

1 of 3 Nike Air Yeezy 1 © Press Service Nike Air Yeezy 2 © Press Service Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October © Press Service

Creation of adidas Yeezy

Hearing about West's dissatisfaction with working with Nike, the main competitor of the brand immediately invited the rapper to Germany to discuss the contract. According to Forbes, adidas agreed to a 15% royalty, excluding the marketing fee, and judging by the rate at which pairs from their collaboration are dispersed and at what markup they are being resold, they have never regretted it.

The first pair of adidas Yeezy sneakers were shown by Kanye West at New York Fashion Week 2015. For the front row guests, including Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and, of course, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue Anna Wintour, the future holy grails of sneakerheads opened up - the Yeezy Boost 350 and Yeezy Boost 750 sneakers. The sports brand took responsibility for the comfort of couples, expressed in including the revolutionary Boost cushioning outsole, and West for design, becoming almost unlimited in creativity. He gifted the Yeezy Boost 750 with a tall silhouette and lace-up straps, making it remarkably similar to the Air Yeezy once created in partnership with Nike. It all looked as if West had declared war on his former partners - and the spirit of this war was imbued not only with shoes, but also with clothes.

The debut collection includes aviator jackets, khaki bomber jackets, camouflage anoraks and sweaters with huge holes. As Kanye himself explained, the design was in part a reference to the 2011 London riots he witnessed. “I do not want my clothes to become life, I want my clothes to help live,” he said. Although the price of the clothes - $ 600 for pants and $ 3000 for a jacket - said otherwise and made her live up to discounts, while Yeezy shoes sold out in minutes. This ultimately led adidas to manufacture exclusively sneakers with West.

Yeezy Boost 750
Yeezy Boost 750

Yeezy Boost 750 © press service

Memes sell

The Yeezy Boost 350 and 750 were followed by the Yeezy Boost V2, the Yeezy Boost Wave Runner, the Yeezy 500, the Yeezy Boost 380, the Yeezy Boost 451 and finally the Yeezy Foam Runner, all of which were constantly updated with new elements and colors. It was the shoes, not the clothes that Kanye designed on his own and became a kind of framing, that showed the evolution of Yeezy design. From simple to complex, from minimal to expressive, from beautiful to funny.

Yeezy foam runner
Yeezy foam runner

1 of 5 Yeezy Boost 350 V2 © Press Service Yeezy Boost 380 © Press Service Yeezy 500 © Press Service Yeezy Boost Wave Runner © Press Service Yeezy Foam Runner © Press Service

By the way, it was laughter that became Kanye West's main marketing tool. Remember at least the slippers a few sizes smaller, in which he wore the wedding of rapper 2 Chainz and Kesha Ward in 2018. In response to the memes that flooded Twitter overnight, West posted a photo of Japanese geta shoes, explaining that he was actually wearing Japanese-style flip-flops. After that, he was photographed in giant slippers, asking subscribers: "Is this pair big enough?" All this was a prelude to the release of similar Yeezy Slides, which instantly received the status of "sold-out" and were subsequently resold at three times the price.

West's fans made fun of both the Yeezy Boost 451, comparing them to khinkali and shoe covers, and of the Yeezy Foam Runner, accusing the creator of plagiarizing Crocs. The new Foam Runner, the photos of which appeared in the Yeezy Mafia account (this is where the teasers of the brand's releases are posted), have become a hell of trypophobes - those who are afraid of cluster holes. "Kanye, be merciful," one of the commentators turned to the rapper.

Show everything that's hidden

However, Yeezy shoes seem funny, mocking and completely unbearable only at first glance. In fact, there are many cultural and historical references behind it, which Kanye West is thinking together with the "guest designer" of sneakers Stephen Smith (his hand, in particular, the most unusual pair of Reebok - Instapump Fury).

For example, the former Yandex.Zen media director Daniil Trabun, who dedicated the first and so far the only issue on his Youtube channel “Trabun Code” to Foam Runner, says that their form simultaneously refers to the architecture of Antoni Gaudi, the monster from “Alien” and the cars of the Italian Luigi Colani (and Lamborghini Countach, of course). In addition, according to the sneaker expert, Foam Runner looks like a mixture of bio and parametric design. This is the principle of creating objects that allows them to optimize their shape as much as possible, as, for example, in the case of a chair by Marko Hemmerling and Ulrich Noether or a yacht designed by Zaha Hadid for the Blohm + Voss shipyard. “Where there is a load on the foot - socks and heels, there is a lot of material. Where there is no need to support the leg, the material is thinner or not at all,”explains Trabun in the video.

The sneaker material is also tricky - a foamy polymer made from algae, which West and Smith probably spied on in the development of shoes from Vivobarefoot. The technology makes Foam Runner not only environmentally friendly, but also applicable in almost any environment. For example, walking through the underwater houses, the construction of which Kanye West announced on his Twitter account.

Forward to the future

Daniil Trabun claims that all the rapper's fashionable ideas are somehow embedded in the narrative of his rest of the activity. “2019 was a year of new land for Kanye. In addition to the powerful image of resettlement on the Sherpas [in the video Closed on Sunday], he started building semicircular wigwams for those in need and began to conduct church services in various places in nature. Clothes and shoes created by Kanye became part of this plot. Now these are the clothes of travelers, pilgrims,”the expert concludes in the video, confirming the argument that the sole of the Yeezy Boost 500 looks like sand dunes. In turn, sweatshirts, trousers and jackets from today's Yeezy collections resemble the robes of priests and the national costumes of northern peoples.

The fact that Yeezy began to symbolize no longer the struggle of Kanye with enemies, stereotypes and himself, but a new life and a desire for the future, is also indicated by the Yeezy Boost 350 sneakers, highlighting the sole of which you can see the semblance of living organisms. It is these details that turn a commercial product into a cultural phenomenon and turn a celebrity brand into an important player in the fashion market. And, of course, partly justify the cost of the sneaker.>

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