Everything You Need to Know About Kanye West's "YEEZY"
Although YEEZY can't look back on such a long history like BAPE or Supreme, it certainly made such a deep impression in its first 10 years. This is not only due to the design of the sneakers, but also because of the founder of the Yeezy brand—Kanye West.
Kanye's self-confidence stands on its own level. He would probably claim that everything he touches turns to gold and he does indeed have a certain knack for it. You just have to look at his white shirt, which sold out almost immediately for $120. But, Kanye also has a preference for shoes. In 2006, he designed his first sneaker together with BAPE, the "Bapesta with College Dropout Bear". This was followed by a collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 2009.
Kanye West x Nike
After the above releases, a collaboration with Nike followed, which was to last for several years. What some might not know is that Kanye's first individual shoe was not the Bapesta at all. It was in fact a Nike Air 180 in an exclusive colourway, which he received in memory of the success of his first album, "College Dropout". Officially, only one pair was made for Mr. West himself, but a pair of them have also appeared on eBay.
In 2009, the time had come when Kanye designed his first own silhouette. In this silhouette, he created the middle strap for a shoe that would be so distinctive for the first YEEZY models. He then wore the shoes for the first time when he performed at the Grammy Awards in 2008. When it came out afterwards that those shoes were designed by him, people went crazy. In 2009, the shoes were released in three different colourways and everyone wanted to have a pair. The shoes were immediately sold out everywhere.
Until today, the Nike Air YEEZY is one of the most expensive shoes on the secondary market, with prices up to over 3.000 £.
2012 ushered in his second collab with Nike. The first time Kanye showed the shoes was not on the catwalk but in Nike's promotional video in 2011, the fans of the first shoe suddenly recognized it as the Nike Air YEEZY 2 and the shoe was sold out within minutes. People even went as far as signing up for raffles in other cities, and then flying there to pick up the shoe when they won. The shoe appeared in two colourways, the Black/Solar Red and the Platinum/Wolf Grey. But, this still was not the end of the Nike Air YEEZY 2.
Two years later, a colourway of the Nike Air YEEZY 2 called, "Red October" was released. The hunt for Red October was even stronger this time than with the other two colourways. It was not in the very least because it was still unclear until the last minute whether the sneaker would be released or not. Because it was one huge back and forth that year, Kanye finally ended the collaboration with Nike before the shoe was out. In an unexpected message on Twitter, Nike spontaneously announced on October 9th that the Nike Air YEEZY 2 in red was now available at the Nike store.
The collaboration with Nike was the birth of the YEEZYs and therefore showed how strong the Kanye effect was. All YEEZYs were sold out in minutes and there were thousands more who would have loved to get their hands on a pair. Kanye ended his collaboration with Nike that year, but a new partner was not that far away.
With adidas, Kanye had found a new ally.
YEEZY x adidas
2015 was the birth year of the adidas YEEZY Boost 750 and the first YEEZY x adidas collaboration—the partnership that many people instantly think of when they hear the name YEEZY. The adidas YEEZY Boost 750 is a high-top sneaker, which first appeared in a light brown colourway. It has the characteristic middle strap, a white Boost sole, and a zipper. The all-black colourway later followed in December.
With this shoe, the name YEEZY reached new heights in the sneaker scene. Just like the other shoes before, they were sold out quickly and are still very expensive to buy on the secondary market today. adidas made 9,000 pairs of the YEEZY Boost 750 at that time, which sold for $350 each. As a result, the supply could not keep up with the demand, which thus further added to the hype.
In one of Kanye West's most famous tweets in 2015, however, he said that eventually "everyone who wants YEEZYs will get some." That's what adidas promised him, because there were so many kids who wanted shoes and didn't get them, so he wanted to change that.
The YEEZY Boost 750 was followed in the same year by the YEEZY Boost 350, this time a low-top model with a seamless (Primeknit) upper and a white Boost sole, but without the middlestrap. The first colourway was the Turtle Dove and was immediately met with great interest.
In the following months, the colourways Black Pirate, Moonrock, & Oxford Tan were released, which were also sold out immediately. It was a significant silhouette, because there would later be many more releases with this same silhouette. And, all of the YEEZY Boost 350 releases were sold out within a very short time. Every single one of the releases now fetches a high three-digit price on the reseller market.
YEEZY Season 1
After the release of the YEEZY Boost 350, the first YEEZY clothing collection followed on October 29, 2015. With the adidas YEEZY 950, boots in four different colourways appeared under the title "YEEZY Season 1", which, however, were not so well-received as they deviated from the classic sneaker design. Kanye also brought out some sweatpants and jackets in this collection with prices up to $3,000. These were mostly in military or skin colours.
It should be noted that the "YEEZY" apparel and "YEEZY x adidas" shoes are both bot from adidas. The former only belongs to YEEZY. However, Kanye usually presents the new shoes at the shows for his new collections, which is why the temporal transitions are fluid.
YEEZY Season 2
In 2016, Kanye presented his second collection. This one was again mostly in skin tone. There were also some shoe releases, but they had nothing to do with adidas. However, there came a new colourway of the adidas YEEZY Boost 750, namely the Grey Gum.
It had a grey upper and a rubber sole. The special thing about this shoe was that its sole glowed a dark green.
YEEZY Season 3
Of course, Kanye didn't just sit around quietly, otherwise he wouldn't be Kanye at all. In 2016, he also launched his third collection on the market. Here, curious spectators were able to catch a glimpse of the new sneaker. It was the adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 in the colourway. This and all other colourways of the shoe were available for $220.
The adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 differs from the first generation in that it has a single coloured stripe on the side of the shoe. There is also a different pattern on the top of the shoe and the sole has been changed to a transparent sole.
On September 24, 2016, the first YEEZY Boost 350 V2 was released, with the colourway Beluga. This one was kept in grey and had an orange stripe with the word "SPLY-350" on it.
October also had a new colourway for the Adidas YEEZY Boost 750 in Petto. This came out in a brown/hum colourway, which was the last colourway so far.
On November 23rd, three more colourways were released, namely Copper, Green, and Red. All had a black sole and black Primeknit. Only the stripe had a different colour from the rest of the features.
On December 17th, another colourway in a similar style followed. Also in black but with a white stripe, the colourway Oreo was released. As with the other shoes before it, the Oreo was sold out quickly after its first appearance.
In 2017, the Triple Black adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 was released on February 11th. This time, there was no stripe on the side of the shoe, but only the word "SPLY-350" in red. Its simplicity convinced fans and the shoe was sold out quickly as always. The colourway came to be known as the Bred.
Two weeks later, the Zebra colourway was released in a very limited edition. Due to the limited supply, a real hype about the shoe as well as the brand itself once again developed, and it was the biggest hype that a Boost 350 V2 had ever created.
In March, a completely new shoe was launched—the adidas YEEZY Powerphase. It was a re-edition of the adidas Powerphase tennis shoe of the '80s and had Kanye's Calabasas branding. On March 28th, it was later launched in white.
In April, the long awaited all-white model of the adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 was released in a Cream White colourway.
And, then in June, it happened: the first remaining stock of an adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2. The Zebra colourway became available again at the store and online on June 24th, allowing other people to buy even more shoes and at the same time reducing resale prices.
Also in June, there was a remainder of the Powerphase Calabasas in white.
YEEZY Season 4
Kanye's fourth season was, shall we say, a bust. The fashion show was completely chaotic. The clothes from the collection were not available until a year later in September 2017, when the All-White and the Bred colourways were finally on display, which we had already covered above.
YEEZY Season 5
The adidas YEEZY Boost 700 was first seen this season. It is a shoe that is now available in the colourways Mauve and Wave Runner. Two more colourways, Inertia and Salt, are planned for 2019. On August 12, 2017, the silhouette became available exclusively on the online store for the very first time.
On November 18th, another very popular colourway of the adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 was released—the Semi-Frozen Yellow. This one had a light yellow Primeknit on the upper side and a unique rubber sole.
Seven days later, there came a colourway that actually already existed before. The Beluga 2.0 colourway for the 350 V2s then came out. For this one, there even was a rest stock on November 30th.
In December, there was a third colourway called the Blue Tint. This one was kept in a very light blue tone. All three mentioned colourways did not have the stripes on the side like the first colourways of the 350 V2s, but only had the "SPLY-350" lettering.
Also, in December came the Power Phase Calabasas in grey.
And, there was yet another innovation in December. The Adidas YEEZY 500 was presented for the very first time. It was open for pre-orders from December and should be delivered from March 2018. Originally, it was only available in the colourway Blush, but now, there are also Super Moon Yellow, Utility Black, and Salt colourways.
YEEZY Season 6
Season 6 brought some new sneakers again. Among them was the delivery of the just mentioned YEEZY 500 and the Powerphase Calabasas in a black colourway.
Later in June 2018, a new colourway for the adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 followed. The Butter sneaker was released and it had a creamy, grey-yellow tone, and a white rubber sole.
In September, there remained the biggest colourway yet. It appeared in such a large edition that everyone with the necessary change could get a pair. The shoe was available on the adidas online store for just three days. Only one party was not so enthusiastic about it: the retailers themselves, but more on that in a moment.
In November, there was also a remainder of the Zebra colourway and also a completely new colourway called Sesame.
The final release in 2018 was a colourway called Static. It had a completely new design for the 350 V2s and was released in a very small edition as a "Yeezy Super Exclusive".
As always, when it comes to limited streetwear, there is of course also a large group of people who want to get in on the action. This only works because most sneakers are released only once and then never again. This does not only create opportunities for resellers, but also usually increases the hype. This is because a limited supply makes the sneakers even more desirable.
A big "mistake" in the execution of the plan to make the shoe available to anyone who wants one was probably the restocks. This meant that coveted colourways of certain silhouettes were simply re-manufactured, which subsequently increased supply and reduced demand. You can see this clearly in the resell prices.
A good example is the YEEZY Boost 350 V2 Zebra. The shoe appeared in 2017 in only a small edition and was therefore really hyped. In contrast to the YEEZY Boost 350 V2 Bred, which was released shortly before that, the Zebra again had a stripe on the side, just like the other V2 colourways. The rest of the shoe had a white/black pattern, which made it stand out from the other shoes.
Shortly after the drop, the YEEZY Boost 350 V2 Zebra hit the resale market at prices of about $1,500—a significant increase from the original $220 at the store. With the 2018 restock, the market value on the secondary market dropped to $400 and anyone who bought it for a lot of money back then naturally felt screwed.
This, of course, also damages the business of the resellers. It could also be argued that the success of a streetwear brand can be measured by the price of the items on the secondary market.
Kanye and his YEEZYs
But, Kanye is not interested in the secondary market at all. Neither does he care that the hype might decrease due to the increased supply. This is because Kanye sells enough sneakers due to the Kanye effect alone.
Moreover, Kanye had set himself the goal of becoming the Steve Jobs of shoes (i.e., to make his sneakers as popular as iPhones). Whether or not this will come true is still highly debatable at this point.
The fact of the matter is that Kanye wants to reach the masses with his sneakers, and this is simply not possible with limited editions. There will still surely be limited sneakers like the adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 Statics. But, it is not Kanye's idea to make the sneakers available to only a small number of people forever. After all, he earns considerably less money by producing smaller editions.
So, for all those who haven't gotten their YEEZYs yet, 2019 will probably be the perfect time to get a pair.