August 03, 2022 by Joey Birch
August includes a day that has almost become a national holiday for many sneakerheads, YEEZY day.
After seeing a myriad of rumours and discussions surrounding what we could see making a return this year, including the original YEEZY Boost 350 ‘Turtle Dove’, official lineups have begun to arrive causing the usual wave of excitement and anticipation.
Kanye’s first official foray into the sneaker industry began in 2009 (with previous F&F Reebok collaborations surfacing years later) when he collaborated with Louis Vuttion, under the mantra ‘Louis Vuitton Don’. Creating three separate silhouettes each titled after a close friend of his including Don C, Mr Hudson and Ibn Jasper, each pair has since become an archival piece commemorating Ye’s deep roots within the industry in which he still has a very influential presence over.
The same year, West went on to work with Nike in a partnership that spanned a little over 4 years during which time he got his take on the Air Force 1 and Air Max 180 which utilised his iconic college dropout bear insignia, as well as a bright pair of Huarache’s, made for the ‘Glow In The Dark Tour’. Unfortunately, these pairs, much like his work with Reebok from 2005, were never officially released despite being able to find limited pairs on the market. What did release, however, has gone on to become some of the biggest grails in sneaker history.
The Air YEEZY 1 and Air YEEZY 2 saw West and Nike’s then VP of design Mark Smith create two futuristic style silhouettes similar to that of the Nike Air Tech Challenge 2 from 1989 and the Air Trainer 1 released the same year with a mid-foot strap and high ankle support in addition to details taken from the Air Jordan 3 on the Air YEEZY 1, a glow in the dark outsole on all pairs of the Air YEEZY 1s and two pairs of the second iteration, except the infamous Red October.
While the initial five pairs of the Nike Air YEEZY made a big splash when they were released, it was the Red October that made the biggest impact. In 2013, Kanye had reportedly cut ties with Nike and had moved over to adidas after publicly stating that he was unhappy with the royalties he was receiving from the Air YEEZY line.
Despite West having moved away from Nike, the Red October was released on the Nike website on February 9th, 2014 and has since become an instantly recognisable pair, transcending into popular culture.
In December of 2013, West signed a deal with adidas that would become the global phenomenon that it has today. It wasn’t until two years later that West revealed the work he and the Three Stripes had been doing behind closed doors during an intimate show at New York Fashion Week in 2015.
During the show, the first and arguably most popular adidas x YEEZY offering was unveiled - the YEEZY Boost 350 ‘Turtle Dove’. Ye’s first low-top style sneaker, the 350 was a silhouette that completely went against the grain at the time. Featuring a sock-like upper with adidas’ Ultraboost midsole, the overall finish provided unrivalled comfort and would go on to create a boom in popularity not just for YEEZY but for the adidas Ultraboost and NMD amongst other silhouettes.
The first edition has remained an incredibly popular release, possibly due to it being the original colourway, but also because it is one of the few YEEZY silhouettes to never been re-released. That is, until YEEZY Day 2022.
After rumours have swirled around the internet earlier in the year with leaked images claiming to be the return of the OG, we can finally expect to see a retro of the sneaker that kickstarted the corporation we know today.
The OG 350 isn’t the only original colourway we can expect to see released this YEEZY Day. The 350V2 is also making a return in a wide variety of colourways, most notable of which is the original ‘Red Stripe’ and ‘Oreo’ which arrived in 2016 as part of the first four variations the public had access to.
Similar to the 350, the V2 utilised an entirely Primeknit upper with the addition of a larger Ultraboost midsole. The overall colourway kept it minimal on both pairs with an all-black upper and a single stripe that ran along the lateral side, featuring ‘SPPLY - 350’. The 350V2 has since become one of the most widely available sneakers on the market following a magnitude of colourways and variations releasing, many of which are due to be re-released.
The following year, in 2017, adidas and YEEZY released yet another set of original silhouettes that challenged the usual design language that we had become used to. Both the YEEZY 700 ‘Wave Runner’ and 500 ‘Desert Rat’ arrived during the thick of the ‘dad shoe’ trend alongside the likes of the New Balance 990V5 and the resurgence of the Nike Air Monarch.
While the 500 continued in the same tonal vein that Kanye had taken his brand in up till that point, the 700 was the first sneaker in the collection to feature bolder colours and play around with interesting details.
Each becoming a classic sneaker in their own regard, both silhouettes are a prime example of the tenacity West has when creating a brand new model featuring premium materials and continuing to provide excellent comfort with the ‘Wave Runner’ featuring as many people's sneaker of the year for 2017, further propelling the YEEZY hype with re-releases continuing to sellout to this day.
Amongst some of the classic releases making a return, newer additions including the Foam Runner and Slides are restocking in their classic minimal colourways. The Foam Runner is one of the most innovative footwear releases in history, a feature that is widely overlooked. Made of petroleum-based ethylene-vinyl acetate and foam produced from algae, the Runners are an excellent example of sustainability. "We're going to be farming and going seed to sole", West announced during the silhouette's debut with the head designer at YEEZY, Steven Smith, at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in 2019.
During a 2015 speech at the MTV music awards, West announced his run for the presidency in 2020. In the same speech, he announced that he wanted to have everyone in YEEZY sneakers and would do so should he become president. While his presidency run was unsuccessful this time around, he has been able to keep to his later promise with a huge amount of adidas x YEEZY sneakers flooding the market with several restocks and new releases arriving on a semi-regular basis.
With a rumoured 50+ models debuting and rereleasing this YEEZY Day, it appears that even more people will have their chance to get their desired pair.
Despite the celebrations, there is still an elephant in the room: could this be the last YEEZY Day we see? Following recent releases from adidas, the relationship between Ye and the sportswear brand that has been able to facilitate West’s brand for almost 10 years appears to be shaky.
Following adidas’ announcement of the Adilette Slide 22, West took to Instagram to express his dissatisfaction, stating “I’m not standing for this blatant copying no more. To all sneaker culture.To every ball player rapper or even if you work at the store. This is for everyone who wants to express themselves but feel they can’t cause they’ll lose their contract or be called crazy”. This was followed up by adidas announcing the adiFOM Q, which has a striking similarity to the YEEZY Foam Runner.
While the adiFOM Q announcement wasn’t met with a response from West, an official YEEZY Instagram account (@yeezy) has appeared alongside the founder trademarking ‘YZYSPLY’ ahead of rumours that we could soon be seeing physical stores in major cities.
It is to be noted that these rumours are in conjunction with additional, more farfetched, whisperings that Kanye is returning to work with Nike after the founder of YEEZY has been spotted wearing the Swoosh on rare occasions.
Regardless of the current relationship between adidas and Kanye West, what the two have created will have a lasting impact on sneaker culture and fashion for many years to come. YEEZY Day is a prime example of the hold that the YEEZY brand continues to have on the current audience.
Happy YEEZY Day, everyone.