Kanye’s passion for the fashion world can be traced back to the early days of his music career in the mid-2000s. Even while he was making his smash-hit rap albums like “The College Dropout” and “Late Registration,” his flamboyant sartorial style was catching eyes. The preppy pink polo shirts, designer backpacks, and upscale loafers he sported became signature looks that influenced hip-hop fashion trends. But let’s take a closer look at Yeezy’s; Kanye West sneakers brand.
However, despite his visibility and success in music, the high-fashion establishment was reluctant to accept a hip-hop artist as a legitimate designer. For years, Kanye tried unsuccessfully to break into the industry. Major fashion executives doubted his credentials and ability to design wearable pieces. Undeterred, Kanye realized that to make his fashion mark, he would need to build his own brand from the ground up.
The Groundbreaking Yeezy Brand Launches
In 2013, after months of negotiations, Kanye inked a deal with German sportswear company Adidas for a new fashion line called “Yeezy.” The sneaker offerings in the inaugural Yeezy collection featured Adidas’ innovative Primeknit technology, making them the most comfortable athletic shoes on the market.
But even more revolutionary was their stripped-down, futuristic look that was wholly unique in the sneaker world. The odd, asymmetrical shapes, earth-tone neutral palette, and alien-esque textures made Yeezy sneakers instant classics. Both celebrities and hypebeasts were soon scrambling to get their hands on a pair.
As the Yeezy brand grew over subsequent seasons, the sneaker drops became bonafide cultural events with lines stretching for blocks outside stores. Seeing people willing to camp overnight just for a 1 in 1000 chance to cop a pair showed just how coveted Kanye’s designs were. On the resale market, certain colorways of retro Jordans or rare Air Force 1s might fetch a few hundred above retail. But iconic Yeezys like the “Red Octobers” or “Turtle Doves” were reselling for upwards of $5000 – a testament to their scarcity and demand.
Global Popularity and Mainstream Hype
Soon the popularity of Yeezy sneakers spread from celebrity fans and inner-city hypebeasts to mass global fervor. As models got increasingly avant-garde with unique patterns and bold pops of color, Yeezys became staples in both streetwear fits and high fashion looks. The brand also benefitted hugely from the social media revolution of the early 2010s, which allowed obsessive sneaker culture to spread more rapidly than ever online.
Seeing the insane clout Kanye generated with Yeezy, major athletic brands were forced to evolve in a similar creative direction. In response to the Yeezy phenomenon, brands like Nike and Jordan started taking more risks with the aesthetics of their sneaker lines. Animal prints, translucent soles, chunky dad-shoe silhouettes all became par for the course – trends partly spawned by Kanye’s risk-taking vision.
In essence, Kanye made sneakers as fashionable as they were functional – bridging athletic shoes to high-end taste by infusing streetwear with haute couture sensibilities. He transformed sneaker releases into high-profile cultural moments rather than mere product launches. In doing so, he also diversified and enlarged the entire sneaker community, drawing in demographics like women and international audiences that the old-school “sneakerhead” world left out.
Impact on the Fashion World
Yeezy’s fusion of high fashion and streetwear sparked a revolution across the entire fashion industry. As the brand rose to prominence in the mid-2010s, elements of Yeezy’s minimalist neutral palette and oversized fits started appearing across runway shows and fast fashion collections. The trendsetters took notes, and soon earth tones, bike shorts, utility vests, and other Kanye-favored garments entered the mainstream.
On a broader level, Yeezy set a precedent for other musicians and celebrities to be taken seriously as fashion designers, paving the way for other big names like Rihanna, Pharrell, and Travis Scott to launch their own successful brands. It empowered a new generation of creative polymaths who refused to be pigeonholed into a single domain.
Reshaping a Stagnant Industry’s Mindset
Beyond shifting aesthetics and trends, Yeezy was hugely impactful in changing risk-averse mentalities across the fashion and retail worlds. Kanye’s willingness to experiment with shapes, textures, and distribution models that broke the mold showed industry veterans that taking chances and disrupting the old rulebooks could pay huge dividends.
It paved the way for other daring young designers and reactive sportswear brands hungry for relevance. In essence, Yeezy’s spark set off a crucial mindset shift toward embracing innovation after years of stagnancy stuck in existing formulas.
A key part of Yeezy’s success has been the range of cult collaborations Kanye has orchestrated with other top brands. These joint releases often combine the most beloved retro sneaker models with Yeezy’s signature avant-garde twist.
Some of the most hyped Yeezy team-ups include:
- The Air Yeezy series with Nike from 2009-2014, considered the precursors to the Adidas Yeezy line. Standouts were the Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers and Solar Reds.
- The adidas Yeezy Boost 350 and 750 done in collaboration with clothing retailer A Bathing Ape (BAPE) in 2015 and 2016. The camo and military color schemes paid homage to BAPE’s aesthetic.
- The Yeezy Powerphase created with iconic Italian fashion house Fendi in 2017. The sleek, luxe, running-style silhouette got an upscale makeover with Fendi’s logo appearing alongside Adidas’ Three Stripes.
- Multiple footwear and apparel pieces done jointly with Gap, with the first Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga capsule having released in 2022. The collaboration aims to make Yeezy’s design essence more accessible to mass audiences through lower price points.
These creative partnerships have been crucial in expanding Yeezy’s reach and keeping hypebeasts excited around new drops year after year.
Impact on Kanye West’s Wealth
Yeezy’s rise has also tremendously multiplied Kanye West’s individual net worth, cementing his financial status as a billionaire. According to Forbes estimates:
- Kanye West’s pretax income from the Yeezy deal with Adidas is approximately $140 million a year as of 2022.
- Royalties and other payouts from the Adidas partnership are estimated to contribute over $1.5 billion to his personal fortune.
- West owns the Yeezy brand outright, positioning him to make huge profits as it keeps breaking into new sales records year over year.
For example, in its first year after launch in 2015, the Yeezy brand brought in around $200 million in revenue. But by 2017, annual Yeezy sales had skyrocketed to over $1.5 billion. And the upward trend continues – Yeezy is projected to clear $2 billion in 2023.
This exponential sales growth and the resulting windfall of royalties and dividends paid by Adidas are why Kanye’s net worth is estimated to be close to $2 billion today, affording him immense financial as well as creative freedom to pursue his wildest ambitions.
Celebrities Obsessed with Yeezys
The popularity of Yeezys extends far beyond just hypebeasts and sneaker collectors. Some of the world’s biggest celebrities across entertainment, fashion, and sports are also obsessed with flexing the latest Yeezys.
For instance, Kim Kardashian (Kanye’s former wife) consistently sports rare Yeezy samples that haven’t even released yet. The chunky dad sneaker silhouettes seem to be her favorites. Justin Bieber is almost always spotted wearing Yeezy slides and Boost 350s in his downtime off-stage.
Supermodels Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Bella Hadid regularly walk the streets of Hollywood in Yeezy Season apparel with the sneakers to match. Kendall even declared the Adidas Yeezy Wave Runner her “favorite sneakers of all time.”
Rapper Travis Scott (Kanye’s protégé and frequent collaborator) credits Yeezys as a seminal influence on his personal fashion style. Athletes like Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce rep their Yeezy 350s and 700s loudly both on and off the field.
Even non-entertainment business moguls like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum have been spotted casually wearing Yeezys with suits and blazers.
Across genres and professions, Yeezy sneakers have become staples among elites who crave exclusive swag. Their trickle-down influence then spreads these styles to wider groups.
Yeezy Runway Shows and Catalogues
Beyond just sneakers, the Yeezy brand also encapsulates full apparel and accessory collections revealed annually during Kanye’s theatrical runway shows. These visually stunning spectacles debuted at New York Fashion Week before shifting to Paris recently.
The live experience features hundreds of models dynamically showcasing upcoming Yeezy pieces for the following fashion season. But even beyond attendees, the shows reach millions more fans globally via livestreams and social media.
Each Yeezy fashion show has a unique concept and ambiance tailored to the precise vibe Kanye wants to convey for that collection. There have been shows set on expansive ranch landscapes, minimalist warehouses, futuristic orbital stations, and glacier-inspired venues.
The runway presentation is supplemented each season by a lush printed catalogue featuring pro-shot modelling images highlighting standout looks. Like the shows themselves, the Yeezy zines exist as works of art in themselves – meant to invite pure sensory inspiration divorced from commercial motives.
Both mediums provide fans an intimate glimpse into Kanye’s ever-evolving creative vision for blending streetwear and high fashion into a unified avant basic style. The sensory assault of the shows combined with the photogenic catalogues spark inspiration that bleeds into wider culture.
Yeezy Brand FAQs
How can I buy a pair of Yeezys?
There are a few ways to purchase Yeezy shoes: 1. Enter raffles or wait in line for limited in-store releases at boutiques and sneaker shops carrying the shoes. Due to low stock and extremely high demand, actually securing a pair this route requires dedication, perseverance, and some luck. 2. Order online during the Yeezy launch calendar releases on the Adidas website or app. Just like in-person drops, the shoes sell out in seconds due to legions of bots and resellers. 3. Buy resell from secondary marketplaces like StockX, GOAT, eBay, Grailed or Stadium Goods. Since stocks run so limited during retail launches, this is the most surefire way to secure a pair. But prepare to pay steep markups – often several times higher than original MSRP.
Why are Yeezys so expensive?
As outlined above, the reality of limited supply and huge demand inevitably translates Yeezy shoes into valuable cultural commodities. Essentially, the economic principles of scarcity and perceived status drive their high resell values.
Adidas’ annual releases in very small batches also artificially constrain broader access. Yet that exclusivity ironically catalyzes hype and Allows Yeezy models to retain resale value. Enabling widespread mass-production would actually devalue the brand. So Kanye seems to have crafted a careful balance that protects desirability.
Of course, costs are also driven up by resellers looking to maximize profit margins. $200 retail MSRP models can resell for $2000 simply based on what the market will bear.
What makes Yeezys unique?
Several signature elements come together to make Yeezys creations stand out:
- Avant-garde, cutting-edge silhouettes that are boldly distinct from traditional sneakers
- Made from premium materials like distressed leathers and soft suede
- Neutral earth-tone color schemes with pops of brightness via red or neon green accents
- High technology features like Adidas Boost soles for comfort and support
- Limited distribution driving cultural hype and instant grail status
In essence, Yeezys capture Kanye’s abstract design aesthetic while still maintaining wearable functionality. The shoes balance artistic expression with real-world performance for provocative steez.
How can I tell if a pair of Yeezys is fake or real?
Authenticating Yeezy sneakers involves checking a few key indicators:
Study the packaging and box labels, shoe tags, and size tags for any misspellings, uneven font, or anything looking offset. Fakes often have lower quality prints.
Examine stitching on seams and panels for clean precision lines, inconsistent lengths, or loose threads.
Assess the colorway against official photos from Yeezy releases, watching for variations. Avoid colorways too loud or “off”.
Look for uneven gaps/overly wide spacing between iconic Yeezy shapes like the midsole dots or back heel tabs.
Feel for quality of materials – authentic leathers and suedes should feel luxe. Fakes tend to use rigid, artificial fabrics.
Test the Adidas Boost sole technology by checking if the pellets visibly flatten with hand pressure. Fakes don’t compress much.
Following these tips when shopping resale sites should help avoid wasting money on counterfeit Yeezy pairs.
What’s next for the Yeezy brand?
Given Yeezy seems poised for growing cultural domination, Kanye will likely keep pushing boundaries in footwear and apparel design along with clever launches.
After shifting his runway show internationally to Paris last year, a next move could be localizing production globally in Europe or Asia. Tastemaking regional collabs tailored for local audiences could also raise buzz.
There’s still plenty of room left for expansion into lifestyle categories like accessories, homewares, pet and childrenswear, and beyond. 2023 could even see a long-speculated Yeezy hotel finally come to life!
If the last decade is any indicator, underestimating Kanye and Yeezy’s capacity to continue trailblazing into unforeseen realms would be foolish. The brand will undoubtedly keep shocking and inspiring creatively for the long haul.
The Legacy and Future Impact of Yeezy
Through the Yeezy brand, Kanye accomplished nothing short of a comprehensive reshaping of sneaker culture into what it looks like today. Even with the evolution of new Yeezy design families like basketball shoes, slides, and foam runners, every launch continues to command worldwide frenzy. Nearly a decade on, Kanye still largely dictates tastes and trends in the realm of kicks.
Yeezy’s ever-growing presence and visibility in the mainstream makes it both a commercial juggernaut and cultural barometer. For other brands, copying elements of Yeezy models remains the fastest way to generate hype. As long as Kanye keeps reinventing the sneaker playbook as drastically as he has so far, Yeezy’s legacy and influence will only balloon further. The brand will undoubtedly inspire eyes and minds for generations, much like Kanye’s decade-defining music.