Not For Sale: A History of Unreleased Nike Air Yeezys

Yeezy season approaching? While formal release information still alludes the coveted “Red October” Nike Air Yeezy 2 colorway, recent wears by West and an IG shot from Kim K have sneaker fans thinking this sample will get cleared. While are hopes are right there with them, not every Yeezy colorway that hits the sample stage also hits shelves. Today, we take a look back at the history of unreleased Nike Air Yeezy and Nike Air Yeezy 2 colorways. Let us know your favorite pair in the comment section.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 “Grammys”

photo via Sole Collector

At the 2008 Grammy Awards, Kanye West debuted the Nike Air Yeezy in an emotional performance that paid tribute to his mother Donda. At the time, details were completely unknown as to what this shoe was and whether or not it would ever release. This pair proved to be an early sample promo of the now famous Air Yeezy, worn once again by Ye during his performance at Nike’s Human Race event, where he gave the world the first preview of “Love Lockdown.”

As noted by the nature of this feature, this colorway never saw a formal release. This pair packs a slightly different story than the most of the other makeups, as it was auctioned. Listed in September of 2009, this pair raised money for the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital much like the yearly collection we see. It should also be noted that proceeds from the released Air Yeezy 1 colorways to Kanye’s Loop Dreams Foundation.

photo via Zimbio

Nike Air Yeezy 1 Charcoal/Fire Red

photo via The Shoe Game

It has been said before that the Nike Air Yeezy created the category of “performer” signature as opposed to “performance” signature (props to DJ Clark Kent). During Kanye’s Glow In The Dark Tour run, the Air Yeezy outfitted him for most of his stops and became the first Nike signature shoe for an artist as opposed to an athlete.

This Charcoal/Fire Red sample was worn one of the first makeups spotted on stage by Ye. The colorway culminated with his stage garb and in many ways was sportier than the released installments. The first shots of this shoe definitely served as an internet breaking moment, adding steam to the still unreleased model.

photos via DJ Proto J of Nike Talk

Nike Air Yeezy 1/Air Jordan 6 “Doernbecher”

photo via Sole Collector

Fans of Celebrity Sneaker Stalker know how much Kanye likes the Air Jordan 6. Two of his most worn silos collided on the good cause Nike Air Yeezy 1/Air Jordan 6 “Doernbecher” mashup. Auctioned for charity in the same manner as the “Grammys” colorway, this pair placed the AJ6 outsole beneath the upper of a triple-black Yeezy, set to leather, suede and patent. An orange lace-lock accented this edition, limited to only one pair ever made and ever auctioned.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 Black/Challenge Red

photo by Coolmackjon via Modern Notoriety

Residing in the rarely worn and seldom seen category of Yeezy 1 samples is this Black/Challenge Red colorway. Said to be sported by Kanye West himself, this pair places a Chicago colorway on the strapped signature. The glow-in-the-dark sole appears to be intact on this installment, while ballistic mesh replaces that of perforated leather on the upper paneling. This sample also sees asymmetrical heel tagging.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 “Tinker Hatfield”

Tinker Hatfield’s resume as a designer is well documented, but it appears his prowess as a collector is also on another level. MJ’s go-to guy laced up a PE pair of sorts of Kanye’s signature right around the time ramping up to the release. This colorway is reminiscent of the “Zen Grey” makeup that kicked off the official rollout, featuring a university blue strap with laser detailing.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 Zen Grey/Neon-Challenge Red

photo by Coolmacjon via Modern Notoriety

Kanye stated during the Yeezus listening party that the original concept behind the Yeezy was to offer the materials and color palette of a luxury shoe, like Lanvin, at a more affordable price point. Nike and West delivered such a shoe upon release, but definitely kept it more sporty on the samples. This unreleased Zen Grey/Challenge Red pair maintains more of an athletic look. A video review of this sample by Sir Sneaker can be seen below.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 “GLC”

OG G.O.O.D. Music member GLC stole the sneaker spotlight at SXSW in 2009 by rocking an unreleased pair of all-black Yeezy 1s. Though color blocking remained reminiscent of the “Grammy” colorway, this pair placed a laser-detailed strap on the upper while mixing leather and nubuck. A bright green lace-lock and translucent sole cap off this unreleased colorway.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 White/White-University Blue

photo by Coolmacjon via Modern Notoriety

This sample may have the least telling color code, but it does offer insight into the amount of detail that went into creating the release-ready Air Yeezy 1. The color palette proves close to the “Zen Grey” makeup, but lacks the depth of materials and Kanye-specific tagging.

Nike Air Yeezy 1 Net/Grey-Pink

photo via UG Soles

Playing more to the luxury and high fashion format, this unreleased Yeezy 1 sample is still a bit of a mystery. Owned by Mark Fatlace, this colorway channels that of the “Net” makeup, but differs with a silk scarf tongue lining and two-tone midsole.

photo via UG Soles

Nike Air Yeezy 1 “All-Glow”

photo via Sole Collector

Long after the Nike Air Yeezy 1 had released, Nike’s Tiffany Beers surprised sneakerheads by breaking out an all glow-in-the-dark sample of the Kanye signature at the Nike MAG 2011 unveiling event. Lux lining and a neutral tone base give this pair a regal appearance by day, while the entire upper and sole illuminate once the lights go off.

Nike Air Yeezy 2 “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

photo via Cyhi The Prynce

While many fans of Kanye and Nike wanted a sequel to the beloved Yeezy 1, no one felt like it was a guarantee. Enter the Nike Air Yeezy 2. Debuted by Kanye West in a Kobe Bryant commercial, the silo saw technical upgrades and inspiration from the Nike Air Tech Challenge II. This colorway, however, never saw a formal release.

Worn by Ye on the streets of Paris and on stage at Coachella, this Black/White rendition mirrored the “Grammy” installment in color blocking. This pair also features an album-inspired tongue tag on the inner lining, showcased in IG pics from Cyhi The Prynce.

photo via Cyhi The Prynce

Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Cheetah”

photo via Nike Talk

Kanye and Kobe are friends and fans of each other. West regularly appears in Kobe commercials and attends Lakers games, while Bryant stopped by the studio during Kanye’s recording of the “Power” remix.

Their common tie of Nike resonated on the Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Cheetah” Sample. A purple based and scaly paneling was reminiscent of Kobe’s Christmas kicks, kept wild with red laces, volt tagging and a glowing sole. This pair has been recreated in custom form, but there’s no word on how many sample pairs actually exist.

Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Oreo”

photo via TheNewHype of Sole Collector

Spotted in a mysterious catalog alongside the “Pure Platinum” and Black/Solar Red renditions, the “Oreo” Yeezy 2 still remains unreleased and uncanny. While the released versions of the Yeezy 2 took direct inspiration from the Yeezy 1, this “Oreo” installment sees cues from the Air Jordan franchise with creative color blocking. A third Yeezy 2 colorway was said to be in the works, but it’s looking more likely to be a more tonal take…

Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Red October

photo via Kim Kardashian

Rocked and name dropped by West, the Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Red October” has definitely reached sample stage and even graced a giveaway. With that said, will they ever see a formal release? This October is nearing its end with no launch date in sight, but as history tells us, some Yeezys yield a long, but well worth it, wait.

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