Kanye West’s Influence On Fashion And The Evolution Of The Norms of Apparel

By Myles Goldman

Kanye West has been in the public eye for a long time; whether for his Grammy-winning records, his social media sideshow of a marriage to Kim Kardashian, or his continuous meetings with our president. However, over the past years, West has become, without a doubt, the most influential figure in American fashion.  With the re-release of his classic Yeezy 350 “Zebra” colorway on November 16 and his meeting with president Donald Trump, it’s the perfect time to talk about him.

Perhaps taking his cue from previous rap stars and music icons who ventured into their own fashion brands, West has been collaborating with companies such as Louis Vuitton, Bape, Nike and Adidas since 2009, In doing so, he has effectively changed the way many people dress. His Yeezy Season clothing line features tee shirts that look two sizes too big, shorts that are supposed to be worn over pants and a standard crewneck with a price tag of over $100. But that’s the thing; they sell not because of the design or even the quality, but because of the demand for the West.

I decided to post a poll on Instagram, titling it “Is Kanye West a Genius in Terms of Fashion?”

The poll was on my Instagram story for 24 hours and received 34 votes; 12 of the votes said yes and the other 22 said no.

Aary Bibens, an alumnus of Post agrees that West is a genius in terms fashion.

“Half of the fashion is what it is because of concepts Kanye introduced or brought back,” Bibens said. “Over-sized tees, long tees, sweatpants turned into fashion instead of loungewear, he [West] put it all together.”

In 2009, West released his first shoe with Nike, called the Air Yeezy. The shoe that retailed at $215 and sold out almost immediately. His biggest shoe at the time at Nike was the “Red October.” The shoe is all red and while it retailed for the same price as his other Nike’s, these have a resale value of at least $5,000.

In 2013, West released his first shoe with Adidas, called the Yeezy Boost 750, a shoe in my opinion that looks like it was designed around an UGG boot.  That shoe retailed at $350 and sold out within minutes of its release.

West’s most popular shoe with Adidas is the Yeezy Boost 350, which in my opinion are the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen, they look like something a goblin would wear because of the pointed toe, weird stitching, lack of structure, and laces that look useless, yet people seem to like the uniqueness.

Another trend in fashion now are “Dad shoes,” which are known for being bulky and just built to last. Of course, West has contributed to the trend by creating the Yeezy 700 “Waverunner.”

My brother actually has a pair of Waverunners and they’re not terrible; they feature a bulky structure that dad shoes have and great support due to the Adidas Boost material. But, are they cool? No. Have they developed a trend? Yes.

Adidas recently released a new colorway for the 700’s, a “Mauve” colorway that did not sell out as fast as predicted, nor was its resale value significant. People who purchased the shoe are reselling them on StockX, a website that people use to resell their shoes in hopes to make profit. However, since the shoes retailed at $300, some people are barely breaking even, making only about $20 in profit.

Even though the new addition to the rapper’s sneaker line did not do well in regards to sales, people will go as far as trusting unauthorized sellers with their credit card information. Due to high demand for the rapper’s footwear, people have been buying replicas of the shoes through websites such as Reddit to connect with bootleg shoe companies in Putian, China, for a lot less than the resell value that now looks almost identical to the real thing.  

I was curious about just how many people do buy replicas and the consequences the seller may face when trying to sell them, so I went on Reddit and spoke with an anonymous dealer from China to protect his identity and he said that the most popular shoe he sells is his Yeezy knock-offs.

“Replicas are very hard to make and dangerous because the police will seize them [replica shoes],” the anonymous source said.

While West has done nothing short of create controversy over the past few years, it’s hard not to acknowledge him for his influence on the current trend in fashion no matter how goofy his apparel and footwear may be.






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