What Happened to the Nike Air Yeezys?

In 2012 Kanye West released the Nike Air Yeezy 2, the perfect mix of fashion and function. So what went wrong?

Kanye West collaborated with Nike to design the Air Yeezys in three colourways for a 2009 release, and the hype surrounding the shows was unprecedented, deeming Kanye as a figure to watch in the fashion and design industry.

The shoes had an all black upper with a glow in the dark sole, and Kanye debuted them at the 2008 Grammys, in line with his Glow in the Dark Tour of 2007-2008. But they never hit the shelves... until a pair surfaced on Fight Club back in November 2017 for the insane amount of USD $100,000.

In 2012, Kanye released the Air Yeezy 2 for $245, but the partnership fell apart shortly after this, and what could’ve been between Nike and Yeezy was no longer.

The shoes, Nike Air Yeezy 1s and Yeezy 2s were so different from each other, and the first release was just a precursor.

Nike Air Yeezy 2

Image courtesy of Complex

The Air Yeezy 2s were cohesive, carefully executed and popular. The final product was the holy trinity of fashion, sport and function. Yeezy’s attention to detail was intense; there was a moulded rubber heel, hieroglyphics spelling ‘YZY’, fake anaconda skin, and gold aglets. And these were all Kanye’s doing. The head designer for the project said: “The anaconda-textured side panel, the toe overlay, the articulated tongue, the inscribed lace toggle — everything was truly looked over by Kanye, crafted specifically for him.”

The Air Yeezy 1 was more of a cut and paste effort, with a lack of vision, while the Air Yeezy 2 was created to be an iconic shoe, and aimed to discover and test which materials, colours and crafting could be used on a shoe.

Nike Air Yeezy ll

By the time Kanye had announced the ‘Pure Platinum’ and ‘Solar Red’ colourways, he had decided to release them separately in opposite parts of the US. The West Coast received the platinum colourway, while the East Coast got the black colourway, and the only place to get both was Chicago, Kanye’s home town. They originally sold for USD $245, but they are now hard to find for less than USD $6,000.

After Kanye parted ways with Nike, he said; “I wanted there to be as many Yeezys as there was LeBron’s...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."

He then revealed that Nike wouldn’t give him royalties because he wasn’t a professional athlete. So he left for Adidas, changing their brand forever.

Looking back at the short-lived relationship between Kanye and Nike, it’s not hard to understand why someone thought it was okay to sell them for $100,000.

It’s fair to say that Yeezy has indeed “created more” than anyone ever thought he could. And it all started with the not so humble Nike Air Yeezy.

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