Yeezy's way into the sneaker world
Kanye West has gradually gotten some experience with sneaker collaborations, and now in a decade created some of the most sought after sneakers. We look back at Kanye's journey from the collaboration with Nike and all the way to the massive Yeezy hype we know today. It’s not everybody who knows that the Nike Air Yeezy wasn’t Kanye’s first work with Nike. It was actually an exclusive colourway of the Nike Air Max 180 which started the famed relationship between the two partners. The colourway was in connection with the release of the critically acclaimed album College Drop Out. The actual release date of the limit sneaker is unknown, but believed to be in the time between 2005 and 2006. The shoe was reportedly only made in Kanye West's own size (US 12), but has since appeared on various popular resell pages in other sizes. Nike Air Max 180 "College Drop Out" was thus the beginning of a wide range of exclusive and sought after sneakers from the rapper's side.
Kanye's First collab
Kanye West first real design was published in 2006 with the Japanese streetwear brand Bape known for their classic ape logo. Here Kanye's strong relationship with the founder and streetwear legend Nigo, formed the basis for a long-standing collaboration and support for each other both in clothes and shoes. Nigo's design and style has undoubtedly helped to stimulate and influence Kanye career within design. The first sneaker in the collaboration between Bape and Kanye were the neo-classical Bapesta which once again was marked by Kanye West's first album "College Drop Out" with the bear from the cover, which later has become synonymous with Kanye. The sneaker was once again extremely limited and sold out online at Bape within minutes.
Kanye and Jay-z (!)
The next collaboration from Kanye came in 2008, and is probably the least hyped of all. The collaboration came Following another of Kanye's acquaintances, this time from the music industry. Jay-Z had long worked with British Reebok around his S. Carter line. The four sneakers that came out in 2008 was thus a triple Collab between two rappers and a sneaker brand. It is not something you just see every day. The visual expression was once again focused on Kanye's "College Drop Out" bear. The collaboration was clearly the beginning on the long standing relationship with Jay-Z which later brought us the album "Watch The Throne".
Air jordan collab
Next in line was the Air Jordan based on a personal and tragic basis, namely Kanye's mother Donda's death in 2008. The model which payed tribute to Donda was the Air Jordan 6 model, which had a predominantly white upper, with a tattoo-like design around the shoe. Many believe that it flourished motive had a double symbolism between Donda's death and Kanye's latest song Roses. However, this was never confirm nor disproved. The shoe was unfortunately also only a promo model that never saw a real release.
Air huarache sample
In 2008 another sample collaboration saw its birth. This time it was a Nike Air Huarache '08 that were involved. There is little information about how much input Kanye actually had on this sample, since the dosen’t sneakers have a clear design imprint from the rapper. The shoe was said to be made to Mr. West "Glow in the Dark" Tour, which the 3M details also alludes. The shoe was, according to sources, only released in five pairs and thus extremely limited and probably impossible to find today.
"Yeezy" got introduced
2009 is for many sneakerheads the year Kanye West truly became Yeezy. Kanye was back with Nike on his first real collaboration with the ultra hyped Nike Air Yeezy. The collaboration was both great for Kanye, but also for Nike. For Kanye the shoe was the one that founded his design career and placed him on the sneaker map. For Nike, it was a step in a new direction, where they now no longer exclusively focused on athletes with new sneaker designs. The release of the Nike Air Yeezy was also quite different from how collaborations so far been revealed. Nike Air Yeezy was for the first time unveiled during a Kanye performance at the annual Grammy Awards, where the shoe created a massive hype on the social media. This form of teasers for Kanye's sneaker releases have always followed and it’s impressive how he creates the massive hype around his releases.
Kanye combines hype around his sneakers, with the high-fashion the same year, with the collaboration with the French brand Louis Vuitton. The collaboration was created around a whole collection of sneakers. All models are named after people from Kanye's crew, such as "Hudson", "Jasper" and "Don", named after Kanye's manager.
Nike air yeezy II
After Yeezy's massive entry with the first release in 2009, it was not until 2012 before Kanye returns with a new Nike sneaker release. Many fans feared that the collaboration with Nike was a one-off, but out of the blue Kanye suddenly appeared in a Kobe Bryant "Black Mamba" commercial with a new pair of sneakers on. Dedicated fans soon found out that the Nike Air Yeezy 2 was coming. Rumors about the release date was posted on various sneaker sites. Once again Kanye and Nike decided to tease the sneaker in prime time television on the MTV Video Music Awards. The two colourway release was once again filled with chaos, where the backdoor deals, corrupt raffles and other measures were taken into use for getting your hands on the coveted sneakers.
Last collab with Nike
In 2014 came the most controversial collaboration which was also the end of the successful honor between Nike and Kanye. Exactly two years after the first Nike Air Yeezy 2 release, the rumor mill started again. The rumor was that new colourways of the coveted sneaker would release. Soon after the first images began to flourish of an all-red Nike Air Yeezy 2. The model was later spotted on Kanye's own feet at a SNL show, where he christened them "The Red Octobers." After the two previous releases surrounded by huge hype and chaos, Kanye and Nike decided that a number of lucky buyers of Kanye's Yeezus album would get the chance to buy the coveted Red Octobers. Shortly after the competition and the winner was found, Kanye began to speak negatively about Nike and their organization in a number of radio interviews. The negative comments from Mr. West finally ended up with action when he shortly after says goodbye to Nike and moves to German Adidas. The break with Nike made many Yeezy fans believe that the Nike Air Yeezy "Red October" never would release, but once again out of the blue poster Nike posted a buy now link to the coveted sneaker through their Twitter profile, which once again made another Yeezy release end in complete chaos.
Adidas, boost, 750, etc...
It didn’t take long before the break up with Nike was forgotten, and during New York Fashion Week in 2015, rumors about a new sneaker from Kanye started to fly. A new shoe named Yeezy Boost 750 was teased at all Adidas' flagship stores around the world. The shoe met harsh criticism from Nike Yeezy fans, but the new, more fashion embossed look met new fans of the rapper's sneaker designs. Yeezy Boost 750 was also marked by Adidas' latest Boost technology, which already at that time had built up some hype that helped to give the release a much-needed tailwind. The model was released in the very limit amounts on February 21st in 2015. That summer another colourway of the coveted sneaker saw the light of day and it was eventually obvious that the model was not a failure, as many otherwise had predicted.
Adidas didn’t seem afraid to release sneakers with Kanye's name attatched to it, and continued undaunted with a new Yeezy Boost 350 model shortly after their second Yeezy Boost 750 release. The first Yeezy Boost 350 model was called "Turtle Dove" and has undoubtedly become the most coveted sneaker to date from the collaborations between Kanye and Adidas.
Later that same year, three new colorways of the coveted sneaker released. The massive amounts of releases was, according to Kanye West itself, with the intention that more and more people should have the opportunity to get their hands on the “limited” models. However, it seemed that the volumes were hold back from Adidas' side so the Yeezy hype could be preserved. This strategy seems to have changed with the latest drop of Yeezy sneakers. This time the new and upgraded model named Yeezy 350V2, with the signature SPLY-350 written across one side, has been produced in bigger quantities. This could be a sign that Yeezys soon will be as available as Kanye preached.
Yeezy og fremtiden?
Om man kan lide det eller ej så har Kanye West uden tvivl haft en kæmpe indflydelse på, hvordan sneaker gamet i dag. Under den kommende Fashion Week i New York, hvor Kanye’s femte kollektion vil blive introduceret. Her bliver det spændende om nye silhouetter vil se dagens lys. Vi håber ihvertfald at se Adidas skubbe grænserne endnu engang når det gælder innovation og hype!.