Kanye has never been shy with his opinions and his love of fashion; even in 2003, with his debut album, College Dropout, he distinctly told everyone he wanted to be considered the best dressed rapper alive. With his collaboration with Adidas debuting this week at New York Fashion Week, every piece of new information of the sneaker is being treated like CNN coverage. With the hype and anticipation of the collaboration continuing to expand as we get closer to the final reveal later this week, it’s a testament to why the one rapper matters in the world of menswear in 2015.
When Nike & Kanye first had it’s falling out after the highly successful release of the Nike Air Yeezy 2 that led to the eventual partnership with Adidas, I wrote about why the two brands simply were not a good fit for one another anymore. To summarize, Nike has always been a company that is athletically driven; they make their products for athletes to enhance their performance. All the hype and hoopla about their sneakers have always been second priority to the swoosh. Even though Ye claims to have played “one at none at Madison Square Garden”, the athletic performance philosophies of Nike simply clashed with the large ego of West. Add on the fact that Nike was reluctant to give royalty cheques because they did not consider him an athlete, the lack of creative control and freedom led to the end of what seemed like the perfect partnership.
Adidas capitalized on the falling out , and quickly signed Kanye to not only a deal to design sneakers , but it also included him a chance to design a collection to go along with the shoes. While trying battling for sneaker supremacy and market share with Nike , Adidas has taken a different approach to gain market share , they are comfortable signing musicians to lucrative shoe deals , and giving them the same creative freedom they would get in a recording studio. Pharrell Williams , Big Sean , Rita Ora , are all artists who thriving under the the three stripes. They the large channels of distribution to , and a pedigree of higher end lines they go beyond just athletics.
Fast forward to a year of speculation, rumours and false leaks, the Kanye X Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost has finally been revealed. Unlike most collaboration sneakers, Adidas and Kanye seem to be taking a different approach with the Yeezy Boost – promising Yeezys for all with 9000 confirmed pairs for the initial launch. Adidas promised the man himself that there will be more to come , anyone who wants Yeezy’s will be able to eventually purchase them.
Now the real test begins for Kanye. Multiple reposts, retweets, and likes are all cool, but the real test for Adidas and Kanye is if they will be able to take a chunk of the market share from Nike. Adidas is all in on Kanye; giving him full creative control, a whole male and female collection , as well as other sneakers and boots , that were showcased during NYFW to go along with the Yeezy Boost , the large global channels of distribution, and the marketing budget of a multi-million dollar corporation to work with.
Love him or hate him, there is no denying West’s influence on menswear. He sets trends for many men , the white shutter shade s , the heart shaped brooch , the rosewood movement , leather joggers , the countless Nike’s that sold out and went up in resale price simply because West was photographed wearing them. Whatever what he’s wearing or designing, if there is a association between his name with a particular brand, it normally picks up traction and ends up being a big hit. Being known as only a rapper has always plagued West as he feels it’s a label that drags him down in the world of menswear and fashion. However, with Adidas backing him and all the resources at his disposal, that label is slowly being lifted.
Fashion has been democratizing itself for the past few years. It’s not a new concept, but for sneaker culture and streetwear, it’s the first time traditional models of low supply and high demand to drive sales have really been challenged. Yes, the Yeezys sold out of their initial 9000 pairs at launch, but how would you feel if the Yeezys were always available? What if the Yeezy Boosts were as accessible as a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths? Would that make them less appealing to you? This is the ultimate test for Adidas and Kanye. His relevance and influence is being used to battle traditional business models in menswear and fashion and when you’re name and brand is used to challenge a world that has been so traditionally guarded, you definitely matter in the menswear in 2015.