While most people might know Kanye West from his groundbreaking albums like Yeezus and The Life of Pablo, his influence extends far beyond the realm of music. The multi-talented artist has also made his mark in the fashion world, particularly with the launch of his iconic Adidas YEEZY Foam Runners, which have achieved cult status both in the world of celebrity and the world of footwear. The question many ask is, "how did Yeezy start?" and "who started Yeezy?" In this blog, we’re going to dive into Yeezy's history, tracing its roots back to its inception, and the creative genius behind its success.
The Birth of Yeezy: When was Yeezy Founded?
The simplest answer is that in 2007, Kanye West - who was at the time already a celebrated hip-hop artist - started exploring the fashion world. His first venture into the industry was a collaboration with the well-established Japanese streetwear brand Bape, which resulted in a range of trainers that were an immediate success. West had discovered a new passion - footwear design - and Yeezy was just on the horizon.
Further on in 2009, Kanye West officially launched the Yeezy brand with the release of the Air Yeezy I in collaboration with Nike; these trainers not only showcased West's innovative design philosophy but also marked the beginning of his rise in the world of high fashion footwear. Despite the collaboration's success, West felt his creative vision was limited and sought a partnership that offered more design freedom: this led to the end of the Nike x Yeezy collaboration in 2013.
Who Invented Yeezys? The Move to Adidas
With the termination of the Nike partnership, a golden opportunity arose for Adidas, and in 2013, the athletic fashion brand announced their partnership with West, offering him the creative liberty he’d always yearned for. The partnership resulted in the birth of Adidas YEEZY, a line that soon would transform the landscape of “sneaker” culture - or as we might say in the UK, “trainer culture” (but let’s be honest, it doesn’t sound as good).
The first Adidas YEEZY release came in 2015 with the arrival of the Yeezy Boost 750, a high-top trainer that combined Adidas' innovative Boost technology with West's avant-garde design aesthetic. The Yeezy Boost 750 quickly sold out, affirming the consumer's interest in the Adidas YEEZY line and setting the pace for the future of the brand.
More importantly, this partnership also led to the creation of the cult-favourite Adidas YEEZY Foam Runners. Unveiled in 2020, the Foam Runners are arguably one of the most distinctive Yeezy offerings, crafted with a focus on sustainability, as the trainers are partially made from algae. A streetwear staple, the Yeezy Foam Runner managed to combine West's vision of an accessible and sustainable future for fashion, and even managed to sell out upon release - which is even more impressive when we consider that 2020 was a year marked by financial instability and ongoing commercial lockdowns.
The Evolution of Yeezy
The Yeezy brand has come a long way since the release of the first Adidas YEEZY in 2015. Every subsequent release was met with fervour, as Kanye West's penchant for disruption continually birthed creations that challenged the status quo of footwear design. These included silhouettes such as the Yeezy Boost 350, the Yeezy 700, and the revolutionary Yeezy 500.
Despite initial scepticism, the Yeezy 500's chunky design eventually became a defining aesthetic in the streetwear world, influencing numerous brands and designers. Meanwhile, the Yeezy Boost 350 V2, with its minimalistic design and comfort-enhancing features, has become a beloved staple amongst streetwear enthusiasts and celebrities alike.
Yeezy's Cultural Impact
It’s impossible to discuss Yeezy’s without touching upon the cultural impact that the brand has had, especially in the last few years as streetwear has become something of a high-fashion statement.It’s simple: in the same way that Kanye West (the Rapper) has influenced artists like Chance the Rapper and Travis Scott, so has Yeezy (the Brand) shaped, moulded and influenced the world of fashion and contemporary leisure wear, with popular brands like New Balance, Off-White, and even designers like Balenciaga taking inspiration from West’s unique blend of high-fashion-meets-streetwear.