By Shu Xie
Kanye West is a monster of a hypebeast. Few can dispute that. Fashion-wise, his shoes—those that he wears as well as those he designs—repeatedly generate the kind of buzz usually associated with the magazine covers on which his wife Kim K, deservingly or undeservingly, appear. Failed (and derided) as a fashion designer, Mr West obstinately sticks to his other passion: designing sneakers, a product category he had insane success with. His Nike-produced Yeezy line of sneakers has a huge following: the kind that encourages overnight queues and mugging-for-shoes. The anticipation was, therefore, no less intense for his latest release, the first since Mr West decamped to Adidas after two hugely successful collaborations with Nike.
Called Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost, the shoe was given not one, but two previews. The first, Instagrammed by his barber Ibn Jasper last week, and the second, made public by the man himself during a pre-Grammy appearance at the annual Roc Nation brunch this past weekend. Earlier today, Adidas released a photo via Instagram to confirm the existence of such a shoe. By now, Kanye West-adoring sneakerheads would have been delirious. But does the third version of the Yeezy live up to past-6-months worth of hype?
I should state that, like the rest of you, I have not seen the shoe except for what’s published on-line. But, as expected, it’s a bombastic piece of footwear. Mr West is partial to what Nike calls “sneakerboots”, so it’s no surprise that the Yeezy 3 (as it is also known) is not a low-cut sneaker. Before I am corrected or someone calls me a “squid brain”, it should be stated that the two previous versions of the Yeezy produced with Nike (and officially known as Air Yeezy) were hi-tops too. It’s, therefore, also not surprising that Mr West will continue with the rise-to-the-ankle shape. Only this time, they look like malformed desert boots for Yeti, which, immediately reminds me of those pony-haired MMM boots he wore during his Yeezus concert tour of 2013/14.
I expected some kind of broad straps too, and I expected right: a wide band stretches across mid-foot, partially obscuring the lacing. The 3-Stripes, interestingly, resides beneath (why Adidas allows the branding to be hidden is open to conjecture, but it’s possible that one man’s ego is bigger than a company’s trademark). Given the on-Kanye’s-feet images seen so far, it’s easy to gather that the cool way to wear the new Yeezy is to have them secured with the strap, while the side zip is unfastened. I remember the guy who came to service my air-conditioner, just last week—he wore his boots in similar fashion.
I have looked at all the pictures that went viral, yet the attractiveness of the latest Yeezy escapes me. These are not cheerful shoes just as Mr West is (mostly) unsmiling. I won’t say he did not try (there’s enough effort for his fans to describe his design as “forward”), but I do not put him on the same league as Ronnie Fieg, who has been able to do for Asics what Tom Ford did for Gucci. Mr West may be a passionate sneakerhead and may have, “in fourth grade, designed Jordans” (as he revealed back in November 2013 in an explosive interview for New York’s hip-hop and R&B station Power 105.1 FM), but the tirade-prone artiste is no Tinker Hatfield. Sneaker design, I suspect, is Mr West’s vanity project, something with which to push his name deeper into the fashion universe, all aglow like the North Star. How else would you explain his suggestion of a name change for promoting the shoes he did in partnership with Louis Vuitton in 2009: a bizarrely grandiose Martin Louis the King Jr in place of Kanye Omari West?
I am glad LV did not bite.
Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost is reported to be launched during New York Fashion Week later this week. Apparently, only 3,000 pairs will be available. Speculated retail price is USD350 each. There’s no doubt you’ll be able to get a pair on E-Bay at triple the price