ComplexCon returns to Long Beach Nov. 6 - 7 with hosts J. Balvin and Kristen Noel Crawley, performances by A$AP Rocky and Turnstile, and more shopping and drops.
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Hopefully you've had a chance to check out the new issue of Complex, on stands now, which features our exclusive story on the making of the Air Yeezys. And hopefully you're not in NYC waiting in line to buy the shoes right now in the pouring rain.
Regardless, the shoe drops tomorrow, so below we've assembled some unseen outtakes from our exclusive interview with both Kanye West (superhero) and Mark Smith (Creative Director of Special Projects in the Innovation Kitchen for Nike). Hit the jump to hear about the design process, selection of aesthetics for the shoe, and why Kanye is the everyman when it comes to repping for the 'hood in the Nike design offices...
As told to Bradley Carbone
Who is Mark Smith:
Mark Smith: "I've been working with Tinker and MJ for about 15 years now, kind of the guy behind the guy behind the guy kind of thing. I've had a lot of great success on products you may or may not have known were mine. From the ones that people probably recognize, I'd say the Air Moire and the Nike + project, as well as working with Tinker on some of the big Jordans, including the 20 and the 23."
Mark Smith on the sit downs:
Mark Smith: "In the early meetings we didn't have an entourage full of people on either side. It was really literally just Kanye and I sitting down comparing notes, bringing each other up to speed on our involvement with footwear and it started naturally from there. We never sent samples out, we didn't want to do that.
We didn't want images on any blogs, so we treated Kanye's project the way we would any of our primary, key athletes. We would meet Kanye on the road to keep the project under wraps. It was a lot of one-on-ones with he and I—usually 2 hours minimum, sometimes up to 4 hours. I think we had about 6 of those."
The Kanye design brief:
Kanye West: "One of the big things I want to stress to people about the shoe itself is conceptually it was made for a person walking on a space planet. I wanted to take the concept of future pop colors and all this like '80s influence and make it wearable."
The Mark Smith design brief:
Mark Smith: "Whenever we started looking at things, instead of adding a whole bunch of today's stuff onto it and super technology or anything like that, it was more about keeping things simple. We agreed that any time we wanted to add something to the product we had to take something away so that it wasn't just adding adding adding and if we could get one item to do 2 jobs then we did."
Kanye on performance vs. aesthetic:
Kanye West: "When I step into anything, the first thing I'm thinking about is aesthetic. I'm aesthetic first on anything. Where will you be when you're listening to this? Where will your surroundings be? Everything [for me] is design. It's not a separate process, there's no separation. I'm expressive when I pick up a mic, when I pick up a keyboard, when I pick up a pencil, if I'm on the computer. Everything is an expression of exactly who I am."
Mark on performance vs. aesthetic:
Mark Smith: "Whenever I've designed shoes, it's always been performance and function first. The actual stage performance was Kanye's "on court" for me, so my goal was to make these super comfortable on-stage performance shoes."
Kanye's color palatte:
Kanye West: "So [as far as using the future pop colors] I decided it would be a cool idea to use them on the inside of the shoe, and on the tongue. The pink is definitely my type of idea, and the taupe Yeezy, which drops in June, really expresses my sensibility."
Kanye is the art kid done good:
Kanye West: "I was the first of this generation of the "art kid" that made it really really big. It used to be that the art kid only sold like 100,000, 200,000 records and then I did College Dropout and it's like, "Oh wow". I'm basically the same type of person who would have been a hypebeast, or a designer, but I did something incredible, I broke through for everyone. The reason kids gravitate to me is because I'm the proof that you can do stuff that's really good that you feel like doing and still be successful at it."
But still can keep it real:
Kanye West: "But I keep it real, and the fans can relate. I'll have white gym shoes on at the Emmys and to me that's like me keeping it real to the 'hood I come from. The people are like, "Man if I had the opportunity to hit the red carpet, that's what I would do. I'd have a G-shock on with a suit." When I get into that Nike office there are different people rooting for me feeling like, "This guy is one of us." Me getting to work with Nike on a shoe is like the voice of this generation. People feel like they're in there with me, 'cause they can communicate with me. They know me through the blog, and through all the people I have great relationships with."
A Yeezy 2?
Kanye West: "We had so much stuff, we actually got a version that hopefully can be the Yeezy 2 someday. "