Hype. Resell value. Radical design.
These are all things we know about the Yeezys.
However, there is one thing we cannot explain about the Yeezys. And that is the future of these shoes - whether they are on the decline or still on the rise.
Time and time again, there have been controversial debates revolving around the status of Yeezys.
It started back in 2015 when there were doubts about whether Adidas could do the same job with Kanye after his breakup with Nike.
And despite the 750s and 350s taking off with their initial exclusivity and high resell prices that skyrocketed up to $1000; people were assuming that the shoes were nowhere near as supreme as the Air Yeezys.
Then during the back of 2017 when the OFF-WHITE x Nike first debuted, the massive drop in resell prices in the Yeezy 350 V2 pack in December (featuring the Semi Frozen Yellows, Blue Tints and Beluga 2.0s) were an indicator of the fall of Yeezys.
This also came at a time where Kanye's dominance was being somewhat tested by Pharrell who started showing signs of the creative liberation Adidas provided him. And with that came again the doubts of whether Yeezys were coming to an end.
Fast forward a few months into 2018 and when the first images of the Yeezy 500s and 700s leaked in the peak of the dad shoe trend; people started thinking Kanye was going through some things.
However, six years on and the Yeezys are still the hottest sneakers on the market.
Recent trends have shown evidence of this too. Despite claims that Yeezys are too saturated and mainstream thanks to the massive Yeezy 350 V2 Creams re-release and restocks of the Yeezy 350 V2 Zebras, the demand for Yeezys remain strong.
This has been most evident with the recent drop of the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 HyperSpace which has surprisingly tagged a resell price of up to $700+ as well as the massive anticipation for the upcoming Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Black.
We even saw people losing their minds over the surprise drop of the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 "Glow in the Dark".
No matter the circumstance, it just seems as though Yeezy never fails to surprise us. As soon as everyone rides them off the wave, they come stronger and better.
So why exactly has this been the case?
What Yeezys Originally Meant To The Community
Before, we dive into why Yeezys are still hot, let's take it back to how it all started... all the way back to 2009.
Obama gets announced as the President of the United States.
Michael Jackson passes away at the age of 50.
Kobe Bryant wins his fourth NBA ring against the Orlando Magic in the 2008-2009 NBA season.
Oh and it was also the year we saw Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift during her VMA video of the year acceptance speech.
Speaking of Kanye, the rapper gets his first signature shoe with Nike - the Air Yeezy.
Welcome Air Yeezy.
In terms of sneakers, the silhouettes that were making headlines during this time included the likes of the Foamposites, Jeremy Scott x Adidas joints and the new Nike Hyperdunk - all amongst releases of retro Jordans (which during that time was HUGE).
As you may have deduced, the commonality of these shoes were underpinned by the athletic greatness of basketball. This coincided with perhaps the peak of 2000s NBA where we saw Kobe win back to back championships as well as the 2008 USA Olympic team bringing back the gold medal.
Sneakers such as the Nike Hyperdunk were adorned. And why wouldn't they be? After Kobe Bryant released that video of him jumping over a speeding Aston Martin in the Nike Hyperdunk, all sneakerheads wanted was to lace up in their favourite sneakers on court.
The synonymy of cool in the world of sneakers during this time was defined by the sentiments of personifying the greatness of Kobe and LeBron.
There was not a single shoe that sparked a sense of uniqueness or challenged this notion.
That was until the Nike Air Yeezys were born.
Headlined by Nike Creative Director, Mark Smith as the epitome of the merging between Nike Basketball and Sportswear styles, the partnership between Kanye and Nike marked a new beginning.
The work by Kanye helped fuel Nike's innovation.
With the hope of creating a modern classic, Nike placed a focus on a new design process labelled as "reductionism" whereby new elements were added, with existing elements being taken away.
Following the momentum built by preceding sneakers with rappers such as the 50 Cent's G Unit and the JAY-Z Reebok S. Carters, the Air Yeezy tipped the climax of the movement towards integrating hip hop culture into sneakers.
A Change In Culture
For the first time ever, sneaker culture was introduced to the idea of style being fused with innovation.
The goal of the shoe was to harness the technical features of basketball sneakers for on-court performance and translate that onto the demands of concert performances.
And that in itself was revolutionary. Not to discount the effort of Kanye and rappers alike on the stage, but who would've imagined sneaker brands paying attention to the demands of these performers after decades of success with athletes.
However, it was more just than meeting the needs of rappers in their live performances.
It was about giving these creative talents the autonomy to make something special.
To utilise the assets of sneaker brands as a platform to leverage the influential power of these artists and inspire all members of the sneaker community.
And more importantly, to push creative boundaries in ways no one ever imagined.
During the 2009-2013 period, the Air Yeezys were encapsulated by this fantasy that anyone aspiring to be like Kanye or any other similar rapper had some sort of creative talent within them.
No longer were the worth of sneakers measured on the basis of their performance on the basketball court or which NBA star endorsed it.
Forget Kobe. Forget LeBron. The relevance and influence they once had in the sneaker scene had subdued.
And there was no greater example than the Air Yeezy II.
Featuring faux reptile skin and gold aglets, the shoe was a culmination of fashion, sport and function. It was a testimony to the groundbreaking movement lead by Nike where celebrities were given autonomy to create something unique.
As for Nike, the shoe gave life to their Sportswear department.
Following the release of the Air Yeezy, Nike soon began to embrace this shift in culture of sneakers being more than artefacts to enhance the performance of athletes.
Shoes such as the Parra x Patta x Nike Air Max 1 were released the year after in 2010 and it took no time for the sneaker community to show their appreciation. Astonished by the contemporary design marked by the combination of Cherrywood Red suede and mesh, the community rode the wave.
And this movement soon began to flow across other brands in the following years. Adidas had their Jeremy Scotts while Asics had the Ronnie Fieg Gel Lytes.
Lifestyle sneakers were the new big thing on the streets.
The partnership between Nike and Kanye changed the symbolic meaning of sneakers. What once was embodied by the grit of basketball sneakers was now overtaken by the flashiness and craftiness of lifestyle silhouettes.
What the Shoes Mean To Us Now
Fast forward and the Yeezys have diverted away from its original impact that it once had with Nike.
Upon signing with Adidas, Kanye claimed that he was going to be the "Tupac of product".
And rightfully so. Under the Adidas label, Yeezys became a status symbol. For anyone who laid their hands on these sneakers, they were struck by a hit of dopamine. The kind of dopamine that fuelled sneaker enthusiasts with a confidence that subtly screamed "yeah I got what you want".
The moment you saw someone with Yeezys on their feet, you automatically knew they were about the "life". The life fuelled by money and status.
Such mentality spread right throughout the entire sneaker scene with sneakers being captured as the new luxury item.
Forget your designer bags, sneakers were now the new status symbol. And it came all thanks to Kanye and his bold efforts to push the boundaries of design and innovation.
However in recent times, Yeezys have been labelled as the hypebeast shoe. The go-to shoe for anyone with the desire to get a hint of clout. And whilst this may be the opinion of many, it lacks validity on many levels.
Yeezys On A Deeper Level
When you remove the connotations of Yeezys being the hypebeast shoe and its saturation in the market, you'd come to appreciate the symbolic meaning of the shoes.
Sure, the monetary value of Yeezys are nowhere the same as they once were. It's simple economics. However, when it comes to sneakers, value should be perceived in non-monetary ways too.
For those who don't know, Kanye left Nike because he felt he wasn't getting a fair split for all the Yeezys sold by Nike. In fact, Nike told Kanye that they couldn't give royalties because he wasn't a professional athlete. Quite hypocritical from Nike when their initial aim was to give credibility to artist performers like Kanye...
So when Adidas began pumping Yeezy releases, it was almost as though they were finishing what Nike failed to accomplish. And that was to honour Kanye as a legitimate creative who had the capacity to design a modern classic sneaker.
By scaling the production, Adidas magnified Kanye's creative talents whilst reminding the world that it was Yeezys that were responsible for shaping modern sneaker culture.
Whether it be elevating sneakers as a fashion statement or propelling sneakers in becoming a legitimate status symbol, Yeezys have been at the forefront for such movements.
According to Jon Wexler, adidas’ Global Director of Entertainment Marketing & Influencer Entertainment, “[Kanye] didn’t want to build a shoe, he wanted to build Rome.”
“I wanted there to be as many Yeezys as there was LeBrons, and I wanted them to be at a good price, but that was not my choice, and we're going to change everything. I'm going to create more than you think that any musician in the history of time ever could have."Kanye West
Word From the Streets
To discuss all things Yeezy, we caught up with Julian Gillot - admin of Facebook Group Yeezy AU.
Tell us how you started your sneaker game...
Julian: I first starting collecting sneakers in late 2013 when I stumbled upon some Instagram photos of Nike’s collaboration with Clot labelled ‘Kiss of Death’. I fell in-love with the shapes and colours of that shoe and logging on to KLEKT every day in search of a DS pair in my size became a daily obsession. I finally bought a DS pair from a guy in Germany in August 2014 for $500.
I think that was a decent price for size 11 in those days. That pair is still my favourite pair of shoes to date, and I’ve only brought myself to wear them four times since buying (although I often take them out the box if only to stare in awe). I’m currently running a reduced number in my collection after moving out of home as my new place sadly doesn’t have the space to hold them all.
My first Yeezy was the first release 350 Pirate Black. That shoe will always hold a special place in my heart. So many good memories are attached to them and I even owned three pairs of them at one point.
How Yeezys have impacted Australian sneaker culture...
Julian: I believe Yeezys represent two separate parts of one issue for the sneaker culture in Australia: Exposure. You might think that the sneaker culture in Australia was born with the release of Yeezys – but you’d be wrong.
The sneaker community has been alive and well for more than 25 years. What Yeezys did was bring sneaker culture and sneaker collecting into the mainstream. Sure, people have been collecting their Air Maxes and Jordans for years, but Yeezys signified the normalisation of sneaker collecting and sneaker/streetwear culture in Australia.
No longer was it just the dedicated few camped outside of a store the night before the new Cement 3s dropped. Now you had camp-outs 300 people strong for multiple nights before an anticipated Yeezy release. The Moonrock camp-out was borderline chaos at some times. I think Kanye’s done a lot of good for the sneaker community, but he’s also injected a lot of toxicity into it. Unfortunately, something about exclusivity makes people do terrible things.
It’s a double-edged sword in many ways: on the one hand I’ve made a lot of friends and good connections through Yeezys, but on the other hand I’ve seen them bring out the worst in people. I’ve had to mediate so many online disputes between sellers and buyers, scammers and those uneducated in the skill of legit checking that I’ve lost track. When Yeezy AU was in its peak, I was spending the equivalent of a full-time jobs’ work week doing legit checks, mediating disputes, and facilitating selling and buying of Yeezys.
The changes in the Yeezy scene over time...
Julian: In the early days the Yeezy scene was pretty tight and insular: everyone knew everyone and looked out for each other when it came to release details and campouts.
It didn’t take long for it to get a bit out of control though. By the time the V2s hit our shores, camp-outs were pretty much non-existent as stores were forced to cancel them due to issues between campers, as well as with the general community (I think people were getting pretty sick of the streets being littered with camping chairs and sleeping bags).
By the time we were on to the V2s it was commonplace to see a pair. It’s fair to say the allure of being part of a little ‘in-group’ was pretty sweet feeling.
Whether the Yeezy hype is "dead"...
Julian: If you look around when you’re out and about, I’d say it’s pretty hard to argue that the hype is “dead”. You might say that’s simply because more Yeezys are being released now than ever before, however, if the hype was dead no one would be buying them. While the hype definitely is as real as it was a couple years ago, it’s still alive and kicking.
On the future of Yeezys...
Julian: I think we’re seeing the future of Yeezys already. A relatively accessible sneaker that continues to draw people in regardless of what anyone else says. A sneaker that introduces people to the sneaker community and inspires young would-be collectors to take their first steps in the collection game.
PUSHAS and Yeezys
Yeezys have been a favourite here at PUSHAS. Check out some of the interesting facts over the past few years!
Yeezys are more than just a hype sneaker.
They are a cultural artefact.
A piece of history.
They gave birth to the idea that was once unimaginable, of giving a celebrity the creative autonomy to create something different. To create something unprecedented.
They normalised the norm of paying crazy resell prices to have a piece of exclusivity. To have this feeling of having something everyone wanted but couldn't get.
They reflect an era where sneakers became legitimate status symbols.
They will forever have their place in sneaker history and for this reason, Yeezys will never die.
Head over to pushas.com to cop all the latest Yeezy drops!
By Daniel PUSHAS