In 2020, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know about the Yeezy brand. In as little as 11 years, Kanye West has transformed from world-renowned rapper to sneaker extraordinaire. Initially collaborating with Nike to create his very own Nike Air Yeezy – which now resells for up to £6,000 – Ye then moved onto Louis Vuitton before eventually settling on a partnership with adidas in 2013. And the rest… well, it’s history in the making. Set to catch up to Michael Jordan’s 34-year-old sneaker empire, the Yeezy brand made $1.3 billion in sales last year, but as styles become easier to cop and restocks are more attainable than ever, are we entering a new era of Yeezy?
Let’s rewind seven years. At the very beginning of the Yeezy brand, those initial releases were near impossible to get your hands on. Exclusivity was the name of the game and West himself (with the help of a Kardashian or two) created a hype that was new to the sneakerverse. Using social media as a marketing tool, the controversial rapper managed to create a demand that outnumbered the supply. And so, when very first pair dropped – the adidas Yeezy Boost 750 Light Brown – it sold out in 10 minutes, and the race to be one of the first to own the brand-new Kanye West-founded sneaker was born.
As new colourways and silhouettes debuted, each and every one received criticism for being unwearable, too chunky or just a bit unusual. West’s designs were unlike anything the industry had seen before; they pushed boundaries, were entirely original and had a futuristic vibe about them. It was a step too far for many of the haters with people quick to label new models as “bricks” before the savage chants of, “Yeezys are dead”. Funnily enough, it was these same critics that slowly came to admire and appreciate the silhouettes they once shunned. Ye had the power to not only be wholly authentic, but to shape public perception of his designs using little more than social media influence.
More and more styles released, like the Yeezy Boost 350 “Turtle Dove” and every bizarrely named colourway to follow, it wasn’t long before Yeezys became a status symbol - it was simple, the rarer the shoe, the higher the status. The exclusivity of the sneakers made die-hard fans especially desperate to get their hands on a pair, but now, with restocks aplenty and new colourways being dropped more often than ever, resale prices have suffered, sneakerheads aren’t quite as eager and several of the new colourways aren’t maintaining their value. But after all, West did always promise a time “where everyone will own a pair of Yeezys,” and for the first time, fans of the brand are able to grab a pair at retail price with little to no fuss.
But why has the brand dropped the exclusivity element of their sneakers? Some might argue it was inevitable whilst others could claim that Kanye’s vision was always to make his shoes as readily available as other mainstream brands’. Truth is, the lack of exclusivity has done no damage to the brand whatsoever - on the contrary, it's actually increased sales. While most sneakerheads will claim the Yeezy hype isn’t what it once was, sales are rising, and demand is higher every year. In fact, in 2019 sales reached $1.3bn and nearly every single pair sold out shortly after release. So, resellers may not be best pleased, but Yeezy is capitalising while simultaneously elevating awareness of the brand.
There’s no denying the impact of Yeezys in today’s footwear scene, even if the newest styles aren’t £1000 commodities on the resell market. Just as you’d expect, Kanye West isn’t ready to conform just yet. After the brand went through a phase of releasing new colourways of the same silhouettes – like the 700 and 350 – Ye appears to have had an influx of creativity and is being original once more, releasing new designs like the Yeezy Boost 380 'Alien' and the Yeezy 700 V3 'Azael'.
These new, futuristic silhouettes come at the same time as West’s personal transformation. The rapper has turned to God and his music has followed – following the release of his new album “Jesus is King”, West thanked his new connection with religion for making him a better father, husband and designer. Rumour has it that he’s even moving production to Wyoming to turn the brand into a family-run business. Looking towards a more sustainable future, Ye plans to create sneakers that are crafted from environmentally friendly materials that deliver on style, functionality and durability.
This innovative thinking works in perfect tandem with West’s new outlook and perhaps proves that fans can expect to behold a brand-new era of Yeezy. Not only can we expect new silhouettes and production methods, we can also get ready to cop a pair with ease (if the latest releases are anything to go by).
So, as we enter the new era of Yeezy, let’s vow to do so with an open mind. If there’s one thing that can be said for Ye, it’s that he’s not let us down yet – his designs have hit the mark every time, delivering on comfort, style and originality. With a loyal following that’ll cop anything that he puts his name to, we’d put our money on West having yet another record-breaking year.
What are your thoughts? Will you be copping new Yeezys this year? Let us know and as always, keep it locked into The Sole Supplier to be the first to know about all the latest releases, restocks and news.