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How Kanye Got His Start In Fashion

Kanye is a major fashion designer nowadays. How did he even get there in the first place?

How Kanye Got His Start In Fashion

We all know Kanye for his notable music career and simply the weird-ass shit that he does haha. But did you know that Yeezy didn’t just come out of the woodworks as an immediate success?

Through a ton of tough fashion moments since the beginning of his music career, he’s had some serious ups and downs like most of us. Kanye forced his way into the fashion world several times. And it’s a damn doozy.

When he was young, Kanye found a love for music production through the classic NES TurboGrafx-16 gaming console. It inspired him to produce music. But he was notably a troublemaker in the classroom for sketching Air Jordan sneakers. And he often claims that he received several scholarships for art schools at a young age. Kanye would eventually be picked up for his productions and began working with Jay Z on plenty of albums. And then there was a path that led him to Nike.

He would work with Nike when designer Christopher Bevans, who created the merch for Kanye first album “The College Dropout,” joined Nike. They ended up partnering on an Air Max 180 sneaker made exclusively for Kanye and his team.

At the same time, he planned on launching a line called Mascotte under Rocawear. The name came from “mascot”, which referred to the bear mascot on his album covers and music videos. But, unfortunately, the collection never came to fruition.

Following Mascotte was Pastelle, a streetwear line. He would wear samples at events like the American Music Awards and “Saturday Night Live.” He assembled a global team to develop the line, including Kim Jones, who at the time was Louis Vuitton men’s artistic director, among others.

At the same time, Kanye began developing footwear with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, which led to three styles; the Jasper, Mr. Hudson, and Don. All are named after West’s friends and collaborators. Later he would give himself the nickname “The Louis Vuitton Don.” The styles launched in 2009.

kanye and north west at paris fashion week 2020
Kanye and North West at Fashion Week in Paris, 2020 (NYT)

A year back, in 2008, Kanye unveiled his first Nike Air Yeezy sneaker at the Grammy’s. It was a tribute to his mother Donda West, who had died a few months before. The sneaker officially launched in 2009 with two colorways and sold out immediately.

Behind the scenes, Kanye was shadowing then-creative director Patrick Robinson at Gap Inc., where Kanye was rumored to begin designing for the company. He also interned at Fendi along with Virgil Abloh.

He would later go on hiatus. He would later claim that the leather jogging pant from Fendi, which was very trendy in the early 2010s, was all him.

His Pastelle line never went to market. Eventually, Kanye would step out on his own, debuting a collection in Paris in 2011. But the line would be described as, “neither triumph nor train wreck.”

The following year saw the launch of the highly anticipated Nike Air Yeezy 2 sneaker. It had only been seen on Kanye, his friends, and his peers at the time. But it would also be the final collaboration between Kanye and Nike… and the partnership would end viciously and publicly.

Kanye eventually went on several rants and interviews in 2013 (which we all know about) making claims that he was a modern-day Shakespeare, comparing himself to Steve Jobs, and demanding investments. At the time he also admitted that he was in serious debt.

After all this, Jean Touitou of A.P.C. gave Kanye a shot in 2013, working with the artist on two collections. The first collection offered a short-sleeved gray hoodie and unique fitting jeans dubbed the “Kanye fit.” The collection sold out quickly.

Adidas’ interest was peaked. So they entered into a partnership with him. Thus, Yeezy Season was born.

Adidas and Kanye held their first fashion show in New York City in 2015 to a star-studded audience. Yeezy Season 1 was dark, inspired by the 2011 London riots. Several models, including his sister-in-law at the time, Kyle Jenner, dawned oversized knits, form-fitting bodysuits, leggings, and bicycle shorts. The first Yeezy footwear was also at the forefront.

Many retailers reported long lines for the launch of Yeezy Season 1 and a quick sell-output of the collection footwear composed of the 350, 750 sneakers, and 950 boots. But pieces from the high-priced apparel remained in stores with markdowns. Adidas would step back from producing Yeezy Season apparel but remained a partner on footwear.

But for Yeezy Season 3, Kanye went big. He unveiled a massive collection at Madison Square Garden in February 2016, which doubled as a listening party for his seventh album, “The Life of Pablo.” Later in 2016, Adidas and Kanye would enter a partnership that included a new range of apparel, accessories, and footwear.

He also expanded distribution so that everyone who wanted a pair of Yeezy sneakers could get one.

Things would take a turn for Yeezy Season 4. The women’s fashion show was held at Roosevelt Island in Manhattan in September 2016 and ran into a number of logistical issues. There were health concerns due to the hot weather and a model was escorted off the runway for feeling ill. Others fainted.

Yeezy Season 5 was a little calmer, and Kanye didn’t attend the show due to a hospitalization.

Yeezy Season 6 and 7 had a completely new approach. Kim Kardashian modeled the collection on Instagram, and her friends and peers like Paris Hilton mimicked her looks. Season 7 was rumored then later canceled.

One year later, Kanye delivered Yeezy Season 8 in Paris. He showed he was in the city by holding his first Sunday Service.

Kanye presented an evolution of his women’s offering that included cropped tops, parkas, boots and slippers, and of course, leggings. The collection was in line with signature Yeezy Season vibes. Showing serious evidence of growth. He closed the show with his six-year-old daughter, North, who sang a mix of What I do by four-year-old singer Zaza. But not without controversy of course (she basically stole the song).

We should all get wristbands that say WWKDN (what will Kanye do next). You in?

All, Story of the Week


March 27, 2022

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