Kanye West has been pushing boundaries as a celebrity, rap artist, and socialite for years, but what is most impressive and surprising is the way that West has seriously infiltrated the fashion world.
What started as beginning trends and his unique style, later turned into a mega fashion brand and Kanye West into a significant fashion designer. That said, we’re here to break down how Kanye West fashion started and how it became so successful with this guide to the Yezzy fashion empire.
Started with Some Shades
Before Kanye got into designing, he was busy creating bold yet trend worth fashion statements. For example, in 2007, Kanye rocked a pair of shutter shades in his music video “Stronger.” While completely impractical, these shades managed to infiltrate the mainstream scene with fans renaming them “Kanye West Shades.” Alain Mikli designed the infamous plastic shades and were lined across with bars, taking the place of lenses.
Kanye later went to design his own shades with designer George Gorrow for a fashion line he had in the works called Pastelle. With Gorrow, West created gold frame sunglasses that they priced at $2,000 each. While the team announced their designs, the products were never sold or showed to the public.
Kanye announced in 2009 that Pastelle would not come to fruition, which was no surprise, as Kanye had only continually talked up the brand for four years without ever releasing designs.
Kanye As Intern
It’s now pretty hard to imagine, but in 2009 Kanye interned at Fendi before launching his brand. He interned alongside Virgil Abloh, now a very successful designer for Louis Vuitton. West claims that while learning from the best, he also participated in intern work like grabbing coffees.
The same year, West interned at Gap, turning to learn about fashion design with dedication after the public shunned him for his VMA incident in which he grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift.
West Line Comes to Fruition
In 2011, West released his first creations with his catwalk collection at Paris Fashion Week. Fashion critics and celebrities flocked to see the designs, but the reviews were mostly negative, stating there was too much fur and the pieces didn’t fit the models appropriately. In true Kanye West fashion, he did not react well to these critiques.
The next year, Kanye released more designs in Paris, which were not much more positively accepted. After this, West announced he would no longer be showing designs in Paris.
Collaborations with Major Designers
Kanye West got his foot into fashion design by working with major designers like Louis Vuitton. This is where his obsession with designing streetwear and sneakers really set in, as he collaborated with Vuitton on a pair of bright red sneakers called the “Don.”
Not too long after, West created his famous Yeezy shoes in 2013 with Nike.
Prior to his Yeezy collab, West had worked with Nike in 2006, creating and establishing his College Dropout shoes, which were sold as one-offs and now sell at incredibly steep prices.
Kanye and Nike released three different variations of the shoe before switching over to work with Adidas in 2015.
Kanye stated his decision to change brands was due to the royalties he recieved from Nike. That said, when Kanye made the switch to work with Adidas, they released three more variations of the shoe and received a $10 million deal.
In 2014, the rapper collaborated with A.P.C. and began created entire outfits. During this stage, West started streamlining his designs and branding, including looks like the cargo pants that are now a brand staple.
In October of 2014, Kanye released Yeezy Season 1, a full clothing fashion line with Adidas, which was a great success. The line was minimal, neutral in color with a military influence for both men and women. The line was shot with unique looking models in bleak landscapes and industrial backgrounds.
After the success of Yeezy Season 1, West realized two more seasons, and with season 3, he merged his music and his fashion designs. The Yeezy Season 3 line was presented at Madison Square Garden, which doubled as a listening party for his release of the album Life of Pablo.
West had celebrities such as the Kardashians and other famous models repping his line. Approximately 18,000 individuals purchased tickets to the release.
His Own Best Advertiser
Perhaps his most brilliant branding idea, West is always photographed wearing items from his lines, often designs that haven’t even been released yet. After marrying fashion icon Kim Kardashian, she also became a massive advertiser of the line, inspiring many of her fans with her new Yeezy streetwear style.
What’s Kanye Up To Now?
In recent years, West has shown alliance with President Donald Trump, announcing that he would collaborate with Ivanka Trump on a line in 2019. This was a reaction to Trump’s own “Make America Great Again” line shutting down in 2018.
The new line would be called “Make America Yeezus,” and Trump will be designing her own pair of the famed Yeezus sneakers called “Yeezy America.” While West’s line is usually all neutral, these new sneakers will be bright red to aline with Trump’s merchandise.
The Kanye West Fashion Evolution
From rapper to fashion designer, West has taken over the fashion world, inspiring other designers to mimick his minimal designs. Though he had a rocky start in the fashion world, it’s clear he accomplished great success. Many fans of West are hesitant in regards to his collaboration with Trump, to which West only responds, “Yeezy is the future.”
In both his celebrity and fashion, West has always shocked and surprised the public with his new ideas and innovations. We’re interested to see where Kanye West Fashion will go from here.
I've always wanted to be the modern-day Carrie Bradshaw :) Fashion and beauty is something I'm obsessed with and my goal is deliver the latest trends within the industry, in a super conversational and digestible way.