Kanye West Is A Valid Fashion Voice

Above: Kanye showcasing his collaboration with Adidas.
Above: Kanye showcasing his collaboration with Adidas.

Kanye West is a creative icon with an increasingly relevant voice. His abrasive honesty hinders what could easily be, a universally respected image. The sheer passion he emits, particularly for forward-thinking art, frequently proves too loud for the masses. You can hear this frustration by throwing on any of his critically acclaimed projects. While the world has grown to know Kanye the musician, his influence now extends beyond musical contributions. Hear any of his recent interviews, speeches, and of course rants, and you’ll know the importance fashion holds in the life of Mr. West.

There was a time when Kanye’s vision for clothing was isolated to his own sense of style, but past collaborations with Louis Vuitton, A.P.C. and Nike, shows us how things are starting to change. The recent and successful partnership with Adidas is yet another example of how leading brands are finally trusting one of today’s freshest tastemakers.

Upon his arrival in the early 2000s, Kanye was already known to make bold fashion statements. Then an in-house producer for Roc-A-Fella, he boldly donned pink polos and backpacks in a rap industry dominated by hoodies and timberlands. When he rose to prominence a few years later, Kanye risked his entire aesthetic again, reaching into past eras and pulling out shutter shades, red leather, and tweed jackets. While these decisions were generally accepted, they were far from lauded by the fashion elite. Outside of hypebeasts, none of Kanye’s inspired trends, were wholly embraced. This dismissal was likely due to the same degree of mistrust that withheld Kanye’s career as a rapper. But just like “College Dropout”, “808’s and Heartbreak”, and 2013’s “Yeezus”, the man created his own success despite unsopportive surroudnings. Just like in music, Kanye set fashion trends for himself before the rest of us latched on to it.

In 2009, Kanye joined Nike’s think tank to release the immensely popular, “Air Yeezy”. The rapper was famously the first non-athlete to have his own Nike branded sneaker. Kanye’s cultural presence was even more established, and with Nike’s endless recognition and power, the “Yeezys” were copped in waves. Despite their soaring retail price, the shoe became a holy grail for sneakerheads. As they percolated into the fashion mainstream, Yeezys were embraced by more and more outside of streetwear circles. The success of the shoe ignited another edition in 2012, entitled “Red October”. Of course, backed upon the hype of the previous entry, the luxury items cemented themselves as a fashion mover and shaker. The solar red became one of the hottest footwear trends for multiple seasons and was borrowed by brands everywhere. From the outside, Nike and Kanye seemed like an unstoppable force in footwear, but the rapper’s name quickly became a commodity. When asked as to why he left the company, Kanye revealed that despite his newfound success, Nike negated much of the input he offered. There was yet again, a lack of trust.

Fast forward to 3 years later and things look a little different. Kanye took the time to educate himself in the world of fashion to fight for and earn the respect of his peers. This journey included an internship at Fendi and tutelage under designers like Jean Touitou. The aforementioned apprenticeship included Touitou’s A.P.C. offering Kanye to create a line. That same line quickly showcased the accumulated and refined skills since his departure at Nike. The collaboration proved successful, and now there are already talks of the two parties working together yet again. The aesthetically mature vision was finally in demand and now, Adidas came calling.

Kanye debuted his sought after Adidas lookbook, “Yeezy Season 1”, at the beginning of the year. The launch arrived during New York Fashion Week and dominated talk both online and in print. While the garments have yet to hit stores, the sole (pardon the pun) piece we’ve got our hands on is the high-top “Yeezy 750 Boost”. The shoe has already become one of the year’s most wanted items, and is a grand preview of the projects to come.

The mainstream recognition of Kanye’s validity, has been years in the making. While his affinity for dress has been copied and heralded by fans for years, it took Adidas to help him break the ceiling. There are many reasons in paying attention to TIME Magazine’s “Most Influential Person”. No matter how brash, Kanye is one of our generation’s most important creatives and his vision for fashion can no longer be ignored. Yeezus is a man concerned with quality, class, and overall “dopeness”.  Over the last year, Kanye has declared himself a servant to the people. His mission is to give the world access and general affordability to the high-end garments, previously reserved for the rich. Still at only 38 years old, he may even accomplish that, and we’ll all look fresh in the process.

Aidan D'Aoust

Aidan is a writer from Toronto. His favourite things in the world are music, movies, and mini dachshunds. Give him a follow on Twitter at @aidandaoust, where he’ll also accept your mixtape submissions.

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