Did you know that Kanye West’s “Yeezy” empire generated 1.3 billion dollars of shoe revenue in 2019? Believe it or not, in 2018, West’s fashion franchise was actually on the verge of collapse, and it was his sneaker phenomenon that generated enough revenue to keep him afloat.
How did these shoes save him from bankruptcy, and what makes them so iconic today? If you are a sneakerhead, you need to read this Yeezy history guide explaining how the iconic shoe came to be.
What Is “Yeezy?”
Yeezy is best known in conjunction with the famous German sports-turned lifestyle shoe brand Adidas. Rapper Kanye West began collaborating with them in 2006, and hasn’t looked back since.
The brand is known for its editorial-like quality and out-of-the-box color schemes, as well as seamlessly adapting to yearly trends. With plenty of budding styles to choose from, you’ll always be able to discover more with the Yeezy shoe line.
Yeezy History in 2006
Initially, the first brand that collaborated with West was Bape, after which he worked for another famous she brand, Nike.
For five years, West collaborated with the brand, in which he released a total of three styles. Two of those styles are still accredited in the company’s history and can be seen in rare occurrences today (like the Air Yeezy 1 and the Air Yeezy 2).
Yeezy History in 2013
2013 was the end of the rapper’s collab after releasing his “Red October” Air Yeezy 2s. Shortly after, it became public knowledge that West was not getting paid royalties for his shoe designs by Nike. He later claimed that the company offered to pay the earnings to charity instead.
Later that year, however, West ultimately reached out to Adidas for a possible collaboration of their own. Since partnering with Adidas, West announced that he retains his brand’s exclusive financial and artistic rights.
How the Name Came to Be
According to interviews, Yeezy is derived from the “Kanyeezy” nickname given to him by Jay-Z. “Kanyeezy” is also famously recognized for being in the intro to “Lucifer” on The Black Album.
Yeezy History After 2015
Until 2015, the collaboration officially debuted between West and Adidas. “Yeezy Season 1” was the first style to premiere, followed by “Yeezy Season 2” and “Yeezy Season 3.”
A History of Yeezy Sneakers
Adidas Yeezy Boost 750
As stated above, Yeezy Season 1 launched the start of the famous shoe franchise. The season also included the Adidas Yeezy Boost 750, high-top sneakers with a cross-strap, a full-length zipper, and iconic BOOST sole.
A Boost is a trademarked polymer used only by Adidas. It comes in compressed and molded pellets for various shoe models the company sells.
The ever-popular UGG boot-inspired the design of the sneaker. It also takes after Marty McFly’s character from “Back to the Future.” The shoe was marked as having “comfort with a futuristic edge.”
Adidas Yeezy Boost 950 Duckboot
Another famous design from the Yeezy Season 1 collection was the Yeezy Boost 950 Duckboot. It was released later in 2015 and had a more aggressive look.
Adidas Yeezy Boost 350
Launching in ‘Turtle Dove,’ this style was West’s first low-top sneaker. It had a BOOST sole and later came in various colors like ‘Pirate Black’ and ‘Oxford Tan.’
Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2
Widely designed around the original, the sneaker was updated with a translucent midsole and a higher heel and sole. A SPLY-350 stripe also replaced the original’s patched branding.
The Yeezy American Football Boot
The Yeezy 350 cleat was a sneaker combined with a studded sole. The shoe was popularized for being promoted by athletes such as Andre Hopkins.
Adidas Yeezy Boost 700
This design was initially released as part of the Yeezy Season five in 2017. At the time, chunky sneakers, or ‘dad shoes’ were starting to come on to the fashion scene. This was partly due to the influence of West’s shoes.
This design is most notably different from other designs because his wife’s style inspires it. However, the sneakers were also met with mixed reviews amongst fans for their level of cropped-ness.
However, the sneakers remained popular. They even grew in sales after Chance The Rapper wore them while hosting SNL and releasing several style variations.
Adidas Yeezy 500
Throughout 2017, West would tease the sneaker in public outings, even wearing them out to events. However, they officially debuted in April of 2018 in ‘Desert Rat.’
This design was also the first Yeezy style to not have a BOOST midsole. Instead, they had the “Feet You Wear” sole, which initially debuted on Kobe Bryant’s iconic Adidas (the KB8 III sneakers).
Yeezy Boost 350 V2′ Glow in the Dark Is Released
In 2019, the iconic Glow-in-the-Dark Yeezy Boost 350 V2 was released. However, it’s also a release known for being “missed by many.” Still, when purchased, the sneakers are priced at a whopping seven hundred dollars.
Yeezy Sneakers in 2019
All in all, five pairs of 350 V2 were released in 2019, though for the Yeezy brand, it could be considered the year of the 700s. 2019 was also known as the Yeezy year for family, with most of the 350 V2s released in adult and kids sizes.
Yeezy Sneakers in 2020
West and his company released15 350 V2 styles. However, it seemed that the main focus of that year was on the newest Yeezy style, the 700 V3, and Yeezy 700 MNVN.
Adidas Yeezy also dropped two sneaker models that year, the YZY Quantum and the Adidas YZY Foam Runner. West also pushed for sustainable materials in his shoes that year, which helped in the resale value of the products.
Yeezy Sneakers in 2021
Sneakers that were released include the popular Yeezy 450. The style does not have Boost or adiPrene cushioning. The shoe, instead, is known to fit more like a knitted sock.
This silhouette also doesn’t host any branding. Instead, both company logos (West’s and Adidas’) are printed on the inside of the insole.
The Future of Yeezy Sneakers
Only time will tell what happens to the famous shoe brand in 2022. Still, if you look back at the history of sneakers, it’s clear that the brand will continue to grow as time goes on. So, make sure to stay up to date on Yeezy history and other growing fashion trends in 2022.