Can the little red dot stand shoulder to shoulder with the little black dress? A native islander and friends look at fashion (and such) in Singapore, and, occasionally, among her neighbours, and a little further afield
That was in the NBC News headline. Kanye West made an ”uninvited” visit to the Skechers HQ and was “escorted” out of the building. Is this a sign of out-of-control or desperation?
With Adidas out of the way, is Kanye West looking to co-brand his precious Yeezy again? Friends in the US (and a Malaysian reader too!) have been enthusiastically sending us reports all morning of Kanye West’s alleged trespass into the headquarters of the Southern Californian sneaker brand Skechers. The company later released a statement to say that the disgraced rapper “arrived unannounced and without invitation at one of Skechers’ corporate offices in Los Angeles”. According to CNBC News, Mr West was with other unidentified people. They were, according to Skechers, “engaged in unauthorized filming”. What they were filming is not known. “Two Skechers executives escorted him and his party from the building after a brief conversation”. There was no report of unfriendly exchange.
Skechers was also certain to say that it “is not considering and has no intention of working with West”. This is likely in anticipation of the speculation that Mr West is looking for a sneaker brand to replace Adidas. You know by now that he was dropped by the Three Stripes, after a considerable period of “review” (which turned many customers impatient, asking for a boycott of Adidas), for comments considered “anti-Semitic and hateful”. Skechers, too, showed that they are willing to censure what he has repeatedly said. “We condemn his recent divisive remarks and do not tolerate antisemitism or any other form of hate speech.” There clearly would not be Skechers Yeezy!
Mr West has already been called out and dropped by three fashion brands. There are not many corporations he could really turn to now, if they are not the likes of Parler. While his clothing line can possibly wait, his sneakers cannot. With Adidas, they have created what is considered one of the most successful shoe partnerships in modern footwear history, making him a billionaire—he no longer is, as Forbes was quick to declare after the Adidas split with him. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the rapper would need to find another company to continue the Yeezy drops. He has previously announced: “I need a shoe company like how Jaimie Salter bought Reebok. Or I’ll take over some shoe factories.” Was what happened at the Skechers compound an incursion?
Mr West being turned away by Skechers would augment the brand’s corporate standing and show that they are willing to do what’s right, and swiftly. One PR professional told us, “It is PR value that costs Skechers nothing.” The shoe label known for their memory foam technology currently has Korean actor Pak Seo Jun as their regional ambassador (for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Macau). Cedrick Tan, Skechers SVP, told Marketing Interactive last year that “with the shorter and fragmented attention span of consumers today, it is important that a brand ambassador, besides having a positive, well-liked image, is a role model who is multi-dimensional, driven, and inspiring”. They would not find that person in Kanye West.
After more than two weeks of reviewing, Adidas has finally decided to drop its partnership with Yeezy, joining The Gap and Balenciaga to turn their backs on one rapping almighty
Yeah! Or is that immoderate a reaction? Adidas has finally decided to follow the footsteps of The Gap and Balenciaga (even Vogue, if that is considered a fashion name) and disassociate themselves with Kanye West. The German brand has just announced that they would drop their Yeezy partnership with “immediate effect”. This is what so many people have been waiting for, as calls grew exponentially this month to “boycott Adidas”. The brand with trefoil had remained largely silent throughout the many times Mr West upchucked his anti-Semitic views online and to whoever was willing to hear, or cheer.
In a statement released to the media moments ago, the producer of Yeezy 350 (considered the collaboration’s best-selling shoe) said that “after a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop payment to Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.” As we post this, Kanye West has not responded to Adidas’s action although he did say, prior to Adidas’s announcement, “the thing about me and Adidas is like (notice how he placed himself first?), I could literally say anti-Semitic shit, and they can’t drop me.”
Well, obviously Adidas can. In the opening paragraph of the announcement, the Three Stripes said, “Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.” Which does beg one question: Did Adidas not share with Mr West their “company’s values” prior to working with the guy in 2013? Or is Mr West’s controversial rhetorics and conspiracy theories part of his appeal and a major pull for everything Yeezy? Adidas may be the last fashion brand to say no to the rapper, but it did also make clear that they are the “sole owner of all design rights to existing products as well as previous and new colorways under the partnership”. Does that mean Yeezy 350 and its siblings will make a comeback in the future, even without the name associated with one anti-Semite?
There could be too much at stake to drop the partnership with Kanye West. And the rapper knows it, and brags
It has been more than two weeks since Adidas announced that they “have taken the decision to place the partnership under review”. But nothing seems to have come out of that. Not the decisiveness that Adidas fans were expecting, definitely not the resolve of Balenciaga—last week, the Kering-owned brand released a statement to the media, saying that “Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist”. There is nothing ambiguous about that statement. And they did not have to explain why. By now, it is very clear why it’s to any brand’s interest to distance themselves from collaborators who make controversial statements, especially anti-Semitic ones, and simultaneously insisting that they are right.
In new video clips from the pulled-out Drinks Champs podcast now shared on social media, Kanye West said—with startling confidence: “The thing about me and Adidas is like, I could literally say anti-Semitic shit, and they can’t drop me.” And he repeated himself with glee, “I can say anti-Semitic things and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?” Yes, now what, Adidas? Or is Mr West implying that he can’t be cancelled by the brand that has made his Yeezy sneakers one of the best-selling in the world? The Washington Post reported that “Yeezy generates an estimated US$2 billion a year, close to 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue”. Adidas themselves declared that “the Adidas Yeezy partnership is one of the most successful collaborations in our industry’s history.” Is Yeezy too hot to touch?
It is likely that despite the objectionable words that repeatedly and stridently come out of Mr West’s mouth across all media, he is too important a name to pull away from for some consumer brands that need his fame to reach out to his ever-willing-to-spend fans. While JP Morgan and the booking agency Creative Arts Agency have also announced the disassociation with Mr West, Adidas, has made a meek comment about merely “reviewing” their professional arrangement with him, even when he had derided the company’s CEO. Mr West appears impervious to cancel culture, and Adidas’s slow reaction to his anti-Semitic arrogance corroborates with the increasing belief that we tolerate bad behaviour by popular public figures, and their outbursts, no matter how extreme, will quickly not be. For every person who disapproves the hurtful words of Mr West, there are just as many who support him.
Just look at the latest video shared on YouTube by The Hollywood Fix. When asked what he thought of Balenciaga dropping him, Mr West said, “I ain’t lose no money. They never paid me nothing… The day when I was taken off the Balenciaga site, that was one of the most freeing days.” And then he was asked if he thinks Adidas is next. ”We’re going through legal right now, so anything can happen,” he replied. But it was not what he said that is disturbing. It’s the reaction of the crowd surrounding him. Many were supportive. You can hear them saying “we are behind you”, “they can’t cancel you”, “god is on your side, man”, “he is the master controller”, “you are going to be the catalyst that brings us forward”, “can we get some Yeezys?”, “Kanye, will you sign my shirt for me here?”, “have a good one, Kanye”.
On Twitter, someone reacting to the welcomed news that Mr West was ”DROPPED by his longtime talent agency”, wrote, ”I don’t understand the obsession with getting someone cancelled. Some of you treat it like it’s a job.” Not everyone is ready for a punitive response, however vile Mr West’s utterances are. Or, willing to see a brand for the company it keeps. Adidas could be watching and convincing themselves to ”let’s wait and see”.
Update (25 October 2022, 17:00): According to a Bloomberg report, Adidas “plans to end its partnership with Kanye West following a rash of offensive behavior from the rapper and designer that turned a once-thriving shoe brand into a lightning rod for criticism”. The Adidas announcement will be made soon. Stay tuned.
Adidas now ponders what it should do with the Kanye West brand that both have raised with admiral success. Is it time to let go?
That it should come to this really surprises no one. In a statement provided to the press, the Three Stripes said, “After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review”. When Kanye West read what Adidas sent out that the media lapped up, he responded on Instagram with “FUUUUUUCK ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS ADIDAS RAPED AND STOLE MY DESIGNS” (the post has since been deleted), including a screen shot of a CNBC report of the Adidas’s reconsideration. He was his usual irascible self, just as he was when he reacted to the widespread disapproval of his “White Lives Matter” T-shirt with the post, “EVERYONE KNOWS THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS A SCAM NOW IT’S OVER YOU’RE WELCOME”.
Mr West has, for as long as we can remember, been an angry man, but is much more so, which does not bode well for his business/brand partnerships. He has a tendency to bring his grouses, including those with the makers of his Yeezy sneakers, to the public sphere, with palpable heat. In contrast, Adidas went about resolving the issues with the rapper “privately”, as they said. Mr West prefers/needs the world to know he is unhappy with whoever he is unhappy with, past or present. In the last few months, he had been especially vocal, his denunciation on social media more bitter and vehement as he called out Adidas’s CEO Kasper Rorsted, even posting photos of the members of the board. Early last month, he shared a Photoshopped image of the front page of The New York Times, falsely announcing that Mr Rorsted had died. How his anger towards Adidas became this vengeful is not easily understood.
But that was not the only death that he brought up with regards to CEOs. In an IG post published after his Yeezy Season 9 show in Paris early this week, he wrote that LVMH’s Bernard Arnaud “KILLED MY BEST FRIEND”, accompanied by a photo of the bust of Virgil, the ancient Roman poet regarded by his countrymen as their greatest, which was taken to refer to Virgil Abloh. Quick to respond was Tremaine Emory, the creative director of Supreme. He wrote on IG, sharing Mr West’s post, “I gotta draw the line at you using Virgil’s death in your ‘ye’ is the victim campaign in front of your sycophant peanut algorithm gallery.” We could sense applause. He went on, accusing Mr West of telling his Yeezy staff that “Virgil’s designs are a disgrace to the black community”. Would you say that of your “best friend”? “Ye tell the ppl why you didn’t get invited to Virgil’s actual funeral,” he continued, “keep Virgil name out your mouth…”.
(When staffers at Balenciaga, offered a heart shape in response to this post, Mr West responded with his own, accompanied by a list of the names and photos of the culpable [the post has been deleted]: ”These are the people at Balenciaga that hearted Tremaine’s post where he threatened me after all I’ve done for Balenciaga…”.)
Now, it is the people at Adidas who wish to keep Kanye West out of their mouths. There is so much vitriolic offensive that one can take. It is amazing that Mr West does not see that his outbursts and ugly public persona would likely hurt Yeezy than Adidas, a brand of 73 years, compared to the Adidas Yeezy partnership of seven. The Adidas and Yeezy divorce, if it comes to that, is going to be messy, like those of so many celebrity couples, in particular the many who led exceptionally public lives. In that statement shared to news media, Adidas also wrote that “successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values”. Is that euphemistic talk for irreconcilable differences? According to estimates published by Forbes, Mr West’s deal with the German brand “is worth USD220 million annually and USD1.5 billion total”. Without Adidas, it is likely his net worth will dip below USD1 billion. Anger, Kanye West may not realise, is not bridge-building, nor profit-yielding.
Is it about the clothes? And they still make them?And the show—what devotionals?
Truth be told, we remember very little of what Yeezy is as a fashion label. They have been relatively quiet (not owner Kanye West, of course) but their return to Paris after the last show—season 8 in 2020—is not. The event was prefaced by Mr West walking the Balenciaga show and his appearance on the Givenchy front row. And there were the notices on social media, including one in Instagram, claiming with sheer exasperation that “Magically No production companies (sic) have been willing to produce my YZYSZN9 fashion show in Paris on October 3″ (that post, since deleted, was accompanied by an image of the list of Gap “Board of Directors”). The show, latter to be touted as being on “the new frontier”, was off to an inauspicious start.
We stayed up last night to try to watch the show on yeezy.com. But, as it turned out, it was a private livestream. On the landing page, we were asked to “enter your email address for YZYSZN9” so as to “join the waitlist”. To watch a livestream fashion show? That’d be a first. But the Internet is a wondrous place and you could still view what some might wish to place a restriction on you. The livestream came on, but we had to wait more than an hour for the show to start. And when it did, it was not even the show. In Virgil Abloh fashion, a film preceded the proceedings, or rather, a video compilation of events past (not necessarily connected to the Yeezy brand), including clips of the dead—John Lennon and Steve Jobs and his mother Donda West, whom Mr West spoke of during the David Letterman talk show—and the living, Kim Kardashian (he really couldn’t let go of her?). Then the waiting continued.
This was the weirdest Yeezy show (or any show), to say the least. Or, more—the most boring, the dreariest and the draggiest to watch. It is amazing how the guests (reportedly only 50 were invited) could put up with the indefinite waiting. The show (more like a rally) finally started, but still no clothes. Kanye West took to the centre of the semi-circular, atrium-like space, offering multiple-Instagram-posts-in-one-rant. Seriously. He fretted, with no spotlight on him, about the reactions to the late start of his Yeezy Season 4 show on Roosevelt Island, New York in 2016, and how the press, having to wait for two hours, “completely killed us” (Mr West forgot to mention that his Donda listening events started late too, but fans, of course, didn’t mind). He went on about the former missus getting robbed “right here in Paris” and people still talking about the Tommy Ton photo, shot in 2009 when he and Virgil Abloh and others attended their first PFW.
Other than his first arrival in the scene, Kanye West wanted to remind you that Yeezy “did change the look of fashion over the past ten years” and that “we are the streets; we are the culture”. And, therefore, “we will not be bullied; we will not be treated differently than you treat any fashion show that might start a little bit later, just to present the best idea to you”. Lateness in the start of shows (and the arrivals of merchandise. Remember what happened to the early drops of Yeezy Gap?) is part of the deal because, in case you did not know, he is all that matters. He stated very clearly, with total alpha-male certainty, “I am Ye and everyone here knows that I am the leader.” That must have been a turn-on for many. It is notable that for a considerable part of this sermonic exhortation, quite a few could be heard saying, when they agree with what was uttered, “yes”, which might have been amen. The self-appreciation/affirmation—and further denunciation (Gap was singled out)—went on for some ten minutes. Towards the end, we heard: “You can’t manage me. This is an unmanageable situation”. By then we were very sleepy and very bored.
Were we here to hear grouses, not see gowns? Shortly after the rambling speech, which ended with “Bernard Arnault is my new Drake” (read into that whatever you will), the show began. And, again, sort of. A little girl took to the performance area, and shouted ”good morning, Donda”. A chorus of juvenile voices responded. Then other kids joined her, including the fashionista-daughter North West. They are reportedly from Mr West’s controversial Donda School (except North), and they continued the salutation to Donda (person, school, or album, your guess would be as good as ours) like a religious chant. A fashion event suddenly seemed like the Kanye West Sunday Service. Or a community event in Harlem. Then a choir master took over, and the worshipful vibe became disturbingly palpable. When the kids started circling the space, as if in some sacred ritual, before the models emerged, it started to look like a cult ceremony. They sang their hearts out, this motley bunch of different ages. There was no explanation as to why the kids were involved in the selling of Yeezy. Early aesthetical indoctrination?
The clothes: Before the ragtag models joined the still-singing children, they were filmed somewhere backstage, and the live images were projected on the on-site screen and shown—each quadrupled—during the livestream. It would take no effort to see the similarity to Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga’s communication materials. Yeezy solo is still unable to pull away from the aesthetic that Demna Gvasalia had helped the collaboration cement. And it is a look Mr West has been personally keen to adopt and push, including the obscuring of faces—identity be damned. The Yeezy collection is really variations of what were established earlier with The Gap, even when Mr West seemed certain that “the idea behind this collection is that everything is pulled on and pulled over… The future of clothes… No hardware…” Or, for that matter, discernible logos. But what Yeezy hoodie or T-shirt isn’t pulled over, and has no hardware?
The collection is, we’re told, co-designed with Shane Oliver of Hood By Air. Mr West apparently couldn’t go at the design singly. But the hand of Demna Gvasalia is strong. The lightest clothes, a pair of fitted singlets with spaghetti straps and cold hips (and the similar in dress form), were overwhelmed by the pieces that were variations of the hoodie and the puffer, now puffed to extreme shapes, and the outers that looked like rags wrapped around and around the body. Is this truly the direction Yeezy is taking to make fashion accessible to everyone, to break down the class divide that Mr West believes exists in fashion (never mind the show was attended by the said 50 people), even if it is doubtful that anyone wants to looks thrice their size and, in doing so, appear sinister? That Kanye West is able to continue to do this, to appear baleful, is due to, in no small part, the ardent support of those who really believe he is a design deity: such as attendees Anna Wintour, Hamish Bowles, Demna Gvasalia, Riccardo Tisci or friends-as-models Matthew Williams and Michèle Lamy (wife of Rick Owens), and Naomi Campbell, who looked like she was wearing an inflatable pool bed.
Not much about the collection was immediately talked about post-show, even on social media. By next week, the clothes may be forgotten. But one item had already stoke fires: the black, long-sleeved T-shirt Mr West wore, with a photo print of Pope John Paul II across the chest. At the back were three words in white san-serif font, arranged in three lines: “White Lives Matter”, a slogan that came into use in 2015, after the Black Live Matter movement. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, the phrase on the T-shirt Mr West wore is “a racist response to the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter, is a neo-Nazi group that is growing into a movement as more and more white supremacist groups take up its slogans and tactics.” The Anti-Defamation League declared those three words a “hate slogan”. It did not help that Kanye West was seen with conservative influencer/commentator/activist Candace Owens (three weeks ago, she called Kim Kardashian “a prostitute” on her talk show Daily Wire), who also wore the same top, but in white and with black text. How nuts were the Wonder Twins? Mr West, for whom “slavery was a choice”, did say earlier in his tirade-cum-homily, “people feel like they have the right to come to my face and call me crazy. Like it doesn’t hurt my feelings. Or like, you don’t have to be crazy in order to change the world.” Yeah.
They are different product categories, but both are caught in claws
Alabaster Industry’s ‘Web’ watch and the the Adidas Yeezy 45 in slate. Photos: respective brands
From wristwatches to sneakers, things are getting clawed. American cult watch brand Alabaster Industries is known for releasing timepieces that sellout in minutes. Their watches were first available here at Dover Street Market SG last April. DSMS has announced that Alabaster Industries will be back in the store this Saturday. One of the most distinctive (hence, sought after) feature of the watch is the stainless steel case cage, shaped like some claw, catching the face in its menacing grip. Even the lug (which holds the matching band) are talons. It is not quite traditional, for sure. They do appear rather sinister, even when the face of the watch is violet, but collectors love the ungual bezel precisely because they do not look like anyone would mess with them.
No less ominous-looking is the Adidas Yeezy 450, first seen online last February. Even in the butter yellow that the brand calls “sulfur”, there is no escaping those bestial appendages—only Kanye West (or his design team) has made them more alien-looking. In fact, they have been called “futuristic”. The shoe is essentially a Primeknit upper caught in the claws, made of the now-trendy material, EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam. The entire base has been described as a “dynamic-shaped” sole. Seen from the top, if the sneaker does not hold a foot or is propped by a shoe tree, it looks like flaccid fabric framed by limp dough. However strange it looks, the Yeezy 450 remains wildly popular, and difficult to score.
Looking at animal extremities for ideas is not that strange a practice. We remember Alexander McQueen’s “armadillo” shoes. That the fascination with hoofs is now extended to claws is really, especially in the case of Alabaster Industries, rather a matter of time. Even Raf Simons’s skeleton bracelet-cum-arm-band is in similar territory, never mind that the reference is decidedly human. Fashion is clearly in the grip of the strange and the claw-like. When will chicken feet be next?
Alabaster Industries watches will launch at DSMS on 6 August 2022. Adidas Yeezy 450 is available at adidas.com
Kanye West claims the German brand has ripped him off with the soon-to-release slide Adidas Adilette 22. Well…
Yeezy is big, powerful, and untouchable. Adidas can’t be unaware of that. It is a monster brand that they partly created. Yet, somehow, they managed to step on Kanye West’s toes, with the coming-soon pair of slides, the all-foam Adilette 22 (above). In a totally unpunctuated Instagram rant-post that is now deleted, Mr West wrote to a “Kasper” (believed to be Adidas’s Danish CEO Kasper Rørsted) that he is “not standing for this blatant copying no more”. The accompanying photo is that of the Adilette 22, which Mr West called “a fake Yeezy”. It was quickly assumed that the rapper/designer was comparing the slide to his ‘Pure’ footwear sold under Adidas Yeezy.
This accusation, coming in the wake of Adidas suing Nike over alleged infringement on certain tech the latter uses, seems rather ironic. But it is really more curious on the part of Mr West as brand and man have been partners since 2013. Without Adidas, there would be no Yeezy (remember Mr West decamped the Swoosh to the Three Stipes?). Moreover, we, like so many others, do not see the similarity between the two slides in question. One has a discernibly textured surface and a flat sole while the other is very smooth (so much so that it could be called ‘Pure’) and has a zig-zagged sole. Shape-wise, they are different too. Both are easily identifiable as slides, but it would be a challenge to say they come from the same design mind.
Same or not: Adidas vs Yeezy. (Top) Adidas Adilette 22 and (bottom) Adidas Yeezy ‘Pure’ slides. Product photos: Adidas
Frankly the Adilette 22 looks 3-D printed, while the Yeezy’s own appeared to be blown into molds, the way PU foam shoes are usually made. Both slides seem to have the same foam for their entire sole unit, tread, and mid-sole, and in one colour. And perhaps it’s the chromatic similarity that had Mr West’s boxers in a knot. One name, ‘Sulfur’, appears on the Adilette, and this is also the moniker used in the Yeezy Foam RNNR ‘Sulfur’ (although also foam footwear isn’t quite a pair of slides, as in pool slides). It isn’t known if this ‘Sulphur’ is, in fact, already part of Adidas’s in-house palate of colours or a name Mr West came up with. The colour sulphur that is popular known is usually brighter than that (those who go camping regularly and use sulphur to repel snakes would be familiar with the shade). To quibble over the name of a colour seems trivial.
The summer of the West is also know as “slide season”, similar to our all-year “slipper season”. It is understandable that Mr West would want his Yeezy to reign, to be seen on the streets, now that Yeezy footwear is not quite the hit as it was before. Given the publicity leading to the launch of the Adidas Adilette 22, the slides are destined to be a massive hit. And now this Kanye West rant. Is it possibly a strategy between both to stir up the hype necessary to make any footwear a much bigger hit? Kanye West helping Adidas? It is clear to many that the Adilette 22 will now be in even greater, crazier demand. Following the accusation, foam slides—not just those by Adidas or Yeezy—will definitely be the footwear to covet.
Now that we are going out more, I am also looking at things around me with greater keenness. Ugly’s trajectory, as I have been seeing, is not on the downward slide. Not even a bit. It is all around us like, what my mother would say, “bijan tumpah (spilled sesame seeds)”. Perhaps, I have spent too much time at home, avoiding Delta and its mutated siblings like some people would loanshark runners. Sure, as with most of you, I am vaccinated, but why court the unwelcome virus by throwing myself at crushing humanity? And, also like most of you, I can’t be holed up at home indefinitely. So out I went. To be certain, I do not dislike my own company within the four walls of my Sembawang flat. Yet, I can’t totally keep myself away from what has been amusing the world or fascinating many folks. Have things changed—or not—while I was ensconced at home?
One of the first trendy things I saw very recently, as we scramble into the holiday season, was the Yeezy Foam Runner. Okay, Kanye West’s alien-looking footwear, released last June, is not new, but I have not had an IRL view of it, just those boastful images shared on social media by Yeezy diehards who find anything Mr West puts out, including a very blah bubble jacket, attractive and desirable. These are still not as widely seen here as, say, Crocs, the first brand to make foam shoes so persistently ugly and crazily popular. So when I saw these bombastic Yeezys on actual moving feet, I had to go quite low to have a proper look at the rigid, masak-masak footwear. If they are worn and on a pavement, they can’t be toys, can they?
For sure, now one could miss those shoes. I don’t recall what the wearer looked like, but I remember his Yeezy Foam Runner. When he was still, his feet looked caged, as if restrained in a torture device or a chastity contraption. I wanted to ask him if they were comfortable, but I didn’t want to seem to doubt his happy feet. I wanted to know if the opening of his kicks is stretchy and if it was easy to push his feet through to rest inside the one-piece, but I did not want him to think that I thought that he, like many fashionistas, suffered for fashion. I wanted to know if the slip-on in the colour of oatmeal (Yeezy calls it “Ararat” in place of off-white) was easy to clean and if the many holes on the top and sides are dirt traps, but I resisted so that he would not mistake me for a germaphobe.
Kanye West seems to know what his fans want when it comes to footwear. Although so many unkind descriptions were thrown at the Yeezy Foam Runner, it continues to be in unimaginably high demand. Co-conceived with Yeezy’s design director Steven Smith, the monstrous shoe (it might be called a “Runner”, but we resist calling the bloated loaf a sneaker) was sold out within hours of its release last year. Who’d guess that ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam and some algae in a clog-like form could entrance that many shoe lovers and collectors? I thought I saw a silhouette that Zaha Hadid would have approved (look at those shoes she did with Lacoste in 2008). On that guy, the two sides of the Runner were dragged as if they were slippers. Pandemic or not, some things just don’t change.
Kanye West is partial to strange, bulky, indefinable shapes for his Yeezy line of footwear. To me, they often look like they are conceived to be worn by animals or, in the case of their weird Foam RNNR, some alien being. His latest, a pair of winter boots, is no exception. Padded, looking almost like a tree stump, with the stitches visible to create parallel curves, they appear to be more at home in elephantidae family than his group of ardent supporters, who considers Mr West a design god of sort. Called the YZY NSLTD BT (again, clearly a vowel-averse moniker. Yes, Yeezy Insulated Boot), it sports a mid-sole that looks like it was nicked from the Foam RNNR’s wavy, three-holes-to-the-side exo-skeleton support. Forgive the cliché: Kindred soles?
This BT is part of Yeezy Season 8, which was shown in Paris last March, if you still remember that. My memory is hazy, but I do recall now that the collection was not memorable. But, somehow, I am reminded of the perforamce of the designer’s daughter North West at the end of the show. Frankly, I don’t even know if Yeezy 8 was ever released (I checked with a New York contact, and he, too, has no idea). Still, here we are with a boot from that very season. The padded foot covering, likely in nylon, is itself not rewriting the aesthetic for those you pull on to trudge through snow. Margiela’s Puffer Snow Boots, for example, is Hulk-like, but is more discernible as footwear for human feet. But if Mr West’s current predilection for covering up and obscuring his body is any indication, he could also be keen on wearing boots that, from afar, might be mistaken for those of Yeti. Cool or crazy, I can’t say.
The YZY NSLTD BT “Khaki” is expected drop next month for USD250.Photo: Yeezy Mafia
It was a COVID-19 day. If the virus was indeed circulating in Orchard Road yesterday evening, outside the Foot Locker flagship at Orchard Gateway (the other half opposite 313@Orchard), they would have seen a delectable buffet. Such a shocking number of people (videos circulating online showed mostly kids) were crowding the entrance of the sneaker retailer that at some point, the police were called in. One SOTD reader who, was going to Uniqlo across the street, saw what he thought were personnel from the anti-riot Police Tactical Unit. Seriously? Apparently, even social distancing ambassadors could not manage the crowd. People didn’t care. Treasures and profiting were to be had inside Foot Locker. Coronaviruses, be damned.
The said covetable shoe was the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350—released for the umpteenth time. Yesterday’s launch was the V2 Core Black/Core Black/Red (first released in 2017). The Adidas website had announced weeks earlier that the sneaker would be launched yesterday, and by Thursday morning, had declared on their Facebook page that their online ballot had closed and that “winning entrants” would have been notified by e-mail. “For those who were unsuccessful,” it added, “you may stand another chance to purchase—our Pacific Plaza store will be contacting unsuccessful balloters in the case of drop outs on collection day.” And if even that couldn’t help the Yeezer lover, “…fret not. We will also be launching the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Core Black/Core Black/ Red on adidas.com.sg come 5 December, 12pm.” Adidas didn’t think there would be this many who love the Yeezy Boost so much and want to touch a pair so desperately, they’d risk falling sick—seriously sick—to jam a store front for that chance.
Back to the old normal: The unbelievable crowd outside Foot Locker. Photo: solesuperiorsg/Instagram
But the staggering and disturbing Orchard Road turnout was not the only one. Apparently, over at Foot Locker’s Jewel outlet, close to 200 people crowded the store this morning, hoping to cop what they could not last night. A cheerful but perplexed staff told us that by eight, there was already a long queue. “We told them we don’t have the shoe,” he said helpfully. “Many left, but some still hanged around.” Why did he think people were so crazy about this pair of kicks? “I don’t know; I don’t get it. I think most who buy are re-sellers. I don’t know how they knew we had the shoe (at the Orchard store). We didn’t announce it. When we told them the shoes were sold out, they insisted we still had them.” What spell did Kanye West and Adidas cast on this unsexy sheath of sneakers?
The guy at Foot Locker Jewel continued, understandably on the side of his employer, “Actually, the people who came, they were out of control. We did our best to tell the people to social distance, but no one bothered. Actually the space (including the kerb) that they were crowding did not belong to us. The mall security didn’t help us; they let us do everything ourselves.” When we said we understood, just as we know how hard it has been for F&B outlet operators to tell people not to enter their premises in groups larger than five and not to mingle, he added, “These shoppers didn’t think about those working in the store. When we were asked to close for ten days (as instructed by the authorities this afternoon), all those people would have no work. But our company did not stop them working. The staff were shared among other stores.” Whatever, happened last night, Foot Locker alone should not have to shoulder the blame solely. However much you covet a shoe—any shoe, do not let COVID-19 win. Yeezy Boost is not a talisman.
Yeezy disappeared for a couple of seasons. Sort of. They ‘showed’ via social media, modelled by the missus, of course, and styled, according to KKW herself, by Carine Roitfeld (probably not very busy at CR Fashion Book). And there were reported “private appointments”, presumably for trade buyers, not the rest of us. The collections S6 and S7 were available online, not seen, according to our sources in New York, in stores. Does anyone still remember Kanye West’s Yeezy fashion?
Season 8 is a return to a catwalk presentation and a reminder that the clothing is as alive as the sneakers, and still designed by Mr West, a newly religious man, who, a day before, conducted Kanye West presents Sunday Service in Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, a performance venue near the Gare, considered by the French to be a salle historique Parisienne, and one of the locations of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s 1981 film Diva. Setting is important when you do not have an actual church to conduct your song-led service in. What does a faith-guided collection prefaced by worship look like?
The show itself takes place on the grounds of the French Communist Headquarters, against the futuristic façade of the Espace Niemeyer, designed by Brazilian architect, the late Oscar Niemeyer. Setting! According to pre-show excitement/reports (this is Yeezy, after all), Mr West will be presenting “a little piece from our home in Cody, Wyoming.” What a move from S6’s Calabasas! It’s 1,418 km apart, if you’re wondering. Cody, as we now know is where the West family has a 4000-acre (16,1874 square kilometres) ranch which they call home with 700 heads of sheep; it is also deeply tied to Colonel William Frederick Cody (hence its name)—the legendary Buffalo Bill. In addition, Cody considers itself “Rodeo Capital of the World”. Cowboy country. It won’t, therefore, be surprising if Season 8 will be, as part of a song goes, a little bit country.
It isn’t. Nor is it a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Strike off any clerical garb, too. Yeezy just doesn’t fit with any particular vernacular, less so in Paris. It is simply Kanye West. Not more, not less. Not good, not bad. Thing is, if you’re neither this nor that, chances are, you’re in the betwixt, possibly the nether, a space called boring. It is hard to be aroused by non-fashion passed off as seasonal trends. That it all feels like you’ve seen them before adds to the needless dismay. Good enough for Cody does not mean good enough for Paris, not even with a dollop of Kim K—the bare midriff—for extra dash of what would otherwise be no flavour.
To be sure, this is not an on-calendar show, which, technically, does not mean it is necessarily a PFW collection. Paris is an open city, anyone can go there to show. In fact, no one knew anything about the Yeezy Season 8 presentation until rumours were rife that the man was in town. Mr West, of course, has a flair for this sort of to-do-or-not-to-do news generating. Yet the pre-show buzz and the Sunday service cannot hoist S8 beyond a short fringe event. That there are only 18 looks (pal Virgil Abloh showed 41 for Off-White—already small, compared to Balenciaga’s staggering 105) augment the show’s and brand’s peripheral standing.
You can’t be certain what part these clothes could really play in your life if you take fashion seriously and live by it religiously. It is tempting to surmise that Mr West designs with his wife’s day-wear needs, and we shall. These are for running around Cody, running around in the cabin of planes, running after the kids (For evening wear, she has also-pal Olivier Rousteing.) To us, Yeezy is Mr West bringing Lululemon and Muji together, one cropped singlet after another, one cropped sleeveless puffer top after another, with the odd judoji worn with pants that look like the fly is open breaking the monotony (still, we can’t tell the difference between look 15 and 16). Perhaps Yeezy Season 8 is how Kanye West, believe it or not, squares faith and fashion.
Three years after the first Adidas Yeezy was launched, many are still desperate to cop a pair, but more amazingly, people are willing to go to honestly ridiculous lengths imposed by retailers to secure the shoe
By Shu Xie
I have never queued for anything—not even food—except once at the A&E to see a doctor when my father was seriously ill. I don’t even queue for a movie ticket now that we can comfortably buy one online. Queueing, however, is what many people are willing to do even for non-essentials such as a pair of sneakers. Okay, I get it, that’s part of the appeal and, indeed, culture of streetwear. But have things reached such an absurd state that we need to queue for an opportunity to get in line?
At the launch of the Adidas Yeezy Boost 700—a shoe of indeterminate attractiveness—this weekend, those interested will need to queue for “a chance to purchase”, as stated by the apparent sole seller, Limited Edt (LE) Vault at 313@Orchard. This chance involves getting in line to place an e-ballot at an interactive screen set in the premise of the store during specified times. What happened to the Adidas Confirmed app?
Surprising to me, and frankly, restrictive, is that in order to even get in line, one has to appear—“MUST”, as spelled out by LE Vault, and, yes, in full caps—at the site in “Adidas (Originals or performance is fine) footwear ONLY” before one is allowed to participate in the ballot! If the church no longer dictates what the congregation wears to mass these days, why is a business owner setting a footwear dress code for shoppers at its store?
It is possible, of course, that LE Vault has a cozy relationship with Adidas and it wants only Adidas fans to cop the Yeezy. Or, it’s attempting to strengthen the marketing muscle of Adidas in order get into the shoe maker’s good books. Either way, such a restriction is shortsighted as it arbitrary omits non-Adidas wearers as potential customers.
As if insisting that yet-to-buy customers walking in wear a specified shoe brand isn’t enough, registrants for the e-ballot are required to “provide non hotmail (sic), outlook or live email address”! Okay, this is not quite comprehensible and too much to digest. I quickly walked away, my non-performance Adilette following sheepishly along.