A good friend and respected member of hip hop gave me a call a few days ago following the unveiling of the Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost.
“Is my sneaker game wack because I don’t like them? It just feels like this shoe was built by Kanye, for Kanye, and not for me,” he stated. The only thing I could think to respond with might sound a bit like a cliche, “They’re just not for you, and that’s the way it should be.”
In various interviews, Kanye West teased the world about his upcoming project with Adidas and billed the shoes to be something that everybody could love. While there might be shoes coming that are more palatable to the masses, the Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost, was not built for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that.
Few live the life of Kanye. An artist with a creative style, creative taste, and creative vision. If you look purely at the music and lyrics of Kanye’s music from the days of The College Dropout to today, you can hear how much his style, tastes, and visions have changed, so why can’t his taste in design?
For athletes, we are used to seeing them involved in the design process of their shoes with constant input from the athlete so that the end product works for them. The famous words of the legendary Bill Bowerman echo through the halls of the Beaverton Campus, “listen to the athlete.” And that is exactly what Nike does. Consumers want the same technology, the same function, and the same look as what these superstars wear night in and night out. Personal touches and subtle story telling personify the product, but the focus is and always will be performance first.
For an artist with a shoe, the process of design, function, and expectations of the end consumer are something completely different.Kanye West in the adidas Yeezy 750 Boost (photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images via Zimbio)
An artist’s shoe must be a visual, tangible extension of who they are in terms of design first. If one can’t picture the artist wearing the shoe in their element as they create their craft, it is a bust. The shoe must be something that you can not only picture the artist wearing, but it seamlessly fitting in with their style of dress. Above the look, the finest details need to be such that connect with the artist. Quality materials are always important, but if a shoe is being crafted for an artist on his level, the highest grade of materials are an absolute must. Lastly, comfort still does come into the equation when the shoe is being designed in collaboration with a footwear company rooted in sports. Technology cannot be overlooked.
The second that I saw the Adidas Yeezy, I knew I was looking at a shoe that was not only designed by Kanye, but one for Kanye.
With details that stretch 360 degrees around the shoe down to the bottom of the sole, this was an original product. Prior models of the Yeezy with Nike had original uppers, but the outsoles were existing builds several decades old with the Air Revolution and Air Tech Challenge II for the Yeezy and Yeezy II respectively. The Adidas Yeezy Boost was something new from the ground up.
With Kanye’s style of dress the Adidas Yeezy is a match. His taste for high fashion get stronger album after album. If you flip through photos of Kanye from the College Dropout era through today, you can visually see that his style of dress and taste in fashion has evolved like his music. From “Jesus Walks” to “God Level”, his sound, lyrics, and even humility have all evolved like his taste in fashion.
While the adidas Yeezy may not be for everybody, that’s completely okay. Kanye West has always stood for standing out and doing the different. Though his popularity has propelled him to be ‘the guy’ that everyone looks to dress like, that doesn’t mean that the everyone has to follow him on every turn and that doesn’t make someone less of a fan or less of a sneakerhead for not digging everything he does.
Art is about self expression and taste is about personal preference. There’s enough variety in the market to wear what you think is hot and pass on what you think is not. And if for any reasons the current choices leave you unfulfilled, be like Kanye and create what you think is missing.
Lead image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images via Zimbio
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