It's safe to say that 2009 was a monumental year for Kanye West. Following the release of this fourth studio album, 808s & Heartbreak, the American artist went on to be crowned as Billboard's Top Male Artist Of The Year. Smashing music chart after music chart, he also began to dominate the sneaker industry, collaborating with Nike for the legendary Air Yeezy line.
Made with the help of Nike Creative Director Mark Smith and later Nathan Van Hook, the Air Yeezy was heavily inspired by the Air Tech Challenge 2, the Air Jordan 3, and the Air Jordan 4. Over the next few years, Ye would release a total of six colourways, with each one being more unique than the next. With that said, the most iconic release of them all has got to be the Air Yeezy 2 "Red October" - arguably one of the most controversial sneakers ever made.
Released seven years ago today, the "Red October" was the shoe that every sneakerhead talked about in 2014. A time when Balenciaga and Gucci were still creating ugly brown bags marketed towards middle aged business women and Off-White was just a colour that wasn't dark enough to be called grey, Ye's latest shoe had absolutely everyone talking.
From its striking bright red colourway to its breathtaking design, this was the epitome of a holy grail back in the day. It was so sought-after that some people were even selling their receipts for $500 on eBay! But this exclusivity isn't the real reason why it's so controversial. In fact, it was more what was going on behind the scenes that gave the "Red October" its infamous reputation.
Following a series of leaks, the "Red October" was rumoured to be dropping alongside Kanye's YEEZUS album as well as his North American tour in 2013. However, as time went on, the shoe was still nowhere to be seen. In fact, in the early stops of Ye's tour, it became clear that his relationship with the Swoosh was at its breaking point.
Mark Parker even talked shit, talking 'bout he don't even know why people like the Yeezys.
"They let me sip that clean water when they let me make them Yeezys, and they saw how the universe reacted. They tried to make it as small as possible. Mark Parker even talked shit, talking 'bout he don't even know why people like the Yeezys. They liked them like they liked the Jordans because I was in fourth grade getting kicked out for drawing Jordans, for being connected to that emotion as a creative." explained Kanye during the New York leg of his tour, taking shots at Nike's then-CEO.
That wasn't all that he said though. He then went on to express his dissatisfaction on how he didn't even know when his own shoes were dropping and how he wasn't able to control the amount of pairs being made. Then, as if out of nowhere, Kanye just stopped wearing the "Red October" at concerts altogether, and this was when rumours began to swirl suggesting that he was working on a deal with another company.
On December 3rd 2013, adidas confirmed that they would be working with Kanye for the Yeezy line. This announcement was the final nail in the coffin for those who wanted to cop the "Octobers". Foot Locker's hotly anticipated online-only release was scrapped, and retailers around the globe started to cancel their launches too, and all hope was lost. With that said, Nike unexpectedly released the "Red October" via a Twitter link, selling out within seconds and putting an end to the legendary Kanye x Nike era.
What came after though, was anything but abysmal. Over the next few years, West would have a more-than-healthy relationship with the Three Stripes, which famously gave him creative freedom over everything. In a Tweet, adidas' then-Global Director of Entertainment & Influencer Marketing Jon Wexler revealed " offered him more money than we did and he took our offer b/c we offered him full creative reign."