Today in Hip-Hop: Nike Debuts Kanye West’s Air Yeezys
On this day, April 4, in hip-hop history...
2009: Kanye West drops his own wildly successful sneaker.
Part of Kanye West's appeal has always been his deep-seeded interest in fashion. His desires came to life when he partnered with Nike to release his own sneaker, the Nike Air Yeezy. ’Ye's shoe changed how people viewed artist-driven apparel and opened the door to an ongoing career in clothing for the Chicago rapper and producer. While he's collabed with other brands before and after Nike, this shoe is what truly put him on the map in the world of sneakers.
The Nike Air Yeezy was developed from 2007 to 2009, a product of Kanye and Mark Smith, Nike's Creative Director at the time. The two worked together well, and had respect for each other's eye and talent. The sneaker's design drew from aspects of past Nike shoes, including various Jordan models. The shoe went through a lot of prototypes, even including LED lights at one point; the lights were scrapped, and Yeezy began to wear early versions of the shoe publicly.
The first appearance of the shoe occurred at the 2008 Grammy Awards; ’Ye had them on during his performance, and the buzz around the shoe started immediately. By rocking a sneaker that wasn't available for purchase, the frenzy had begun.
The first iteration of the shoe, in its "Zen Grey" colorway, released on April 4, 2009. Additional colors of the shoe followed over the next few months, a black and pink edition, and a "Net" version, which was beige. The shoes sold at a $215 price point, with resale value skyrocketing into the thousands.
Thanks to the success of the Air Yeezy, the Air Yeezy 2's came in 2012, selling out just as fast as their predecessors. ’Ye eventually cut ties with Nike in 2014, and began releasing sneakers, boots and clothing with Adidas in 2015.
See Photos of Kanye West's Different Looks Over the Years