I finally got the August edition of GQ, which I must admit is not my type of read. But an exception was made because the swag lord himself, Kanye West, received the honor to grace the cover.
I skipped through the awkward high-fashion advertisements laden with prepubescent-looking male models to Ye’s interview about his reupholstered life. Although it didn’t touch on his new venture with adidas, Ye made a bold statement by lacing up two of adidas’ signature models for the spread: the Stan Smith and Pure Boost. Both of which were dubbed two of the biggest releases of 2014 here at Complex. With Kanye on the precipice of releasing the Yeezy 3—which we've yet to see —Yeezus may be poised to change the sneaker culture, again.
During the reintroduction of the Yeezus tour, Kanye chose to use his stop in Perth, Australia to confirm the highly anticipated, and speculated, release of the Yeezy 3. “See now I feel good because we’ve been working hard.” Ye said while wearing a custom Maison Martin Margiela mask. He continued, "We’ve got the new Yeezys… The Yeezy 3 is coming in November.” Though the Australia crowd was probably more concerned with what song he would play next, the news meant that Yeezy season would commence in mere months.
Leading up to the announcement of the release date of the Yeezy 3s, adidas strategically utilized its most significant platforms to promote the new partnership with Kanye. The campaign included exclusively premiering Kanye’s track “God level” for its World Cup "The Dream: All in or nothing" commercial and putting on a Miami Heat-esque introduction event at adidas’ 2014 Global Brand Conference.
Adidas also re-established its aura within pop culture thanks to the reintroduction of the Stan Smith, its dominate brand presence during the World Cup, and recently, the debuting of the innovative “Boost” technology.
This momentum that adidas has created over the past year will bolster Kanye’s awaited return to sneakers. Under the adidas umbrella, Kanye’s trend-setting ways can help reestablish adidas’ storied occupancy within hip-hop, which, in turn, can serve as another vehicle to promote his shoe. The announcement of his inaugural sneaker with adidas coincidentally also comes on the heels of speculation that his new single is also coming soon. Free promotion.
Ye has the star power and creative ambition to recreate a movement similar to the '80s where artists like Run DMC, Cool Herc, and Grand Master Flash were running the rap game. Chances are it won't lead to Kanye performing at Madison Square Garden where fans are holding up Yeezys 3s like the Run DMC days. But with the growing trend of music artists being glorified brand ambassadors for sneaker companies, it could lead to a snowball effect where adidas recruits other artists within the genre. The addition of Yeezus only enhances the brand's current roster of Pharrell, Big Sean, and 2 Chainz who all cater to different demographics within rap music.
It is extremely unlikely that the release of the Yeezy 3 will diminish the resell value of his Nike Air Yeezy line over time.
Subsequently, Kanye has vowed through countless interviews that he plans to make his new shoe more accessible, which essentially means either a lower price point or higher quantities produced than his Nike predecessors. If true, it would erase the elitist stigma that is typically associated with a Kanye West shoe, and also ease the bemoaning ways of sneakerheads. If Kanye can produce a competitively priced sneaker, it would help adidas’ never ending competition with Nike/Jordan Brand who has already promised an increase in retail for their “re-mastered” products in 2015. It may also give loyal fans of Kanye an easier way to identify themselves with him without spending thousands of dollars on a pair of Nike Air Yeezys.
It's extremely unlikely that the release of the Yeezy 3 will diminish the resell value of his Nike Air Yeezy line over time. So the idea of him having a shoe with Nike that constitutes a “holy grail,” and now potentially an “attainable” adidas sneaker, puts him in a space that no other artist or athlete can say they have been. Let's face it: People probably considered camping out as soon as they got word that Yeezy 3s would be dropping in November. With that said, the fact that Ye will have extremely desirable sneakers with the two biggest competitors in the industry speaks volumes.
Lastly, the opportunity for collaborations could offer a whole new dynamic to his sneaker line with the adidas regime. Both Kanye and adidas have a rich history with sneaker collaborations. Kanye has worked with Louis Vuitton on its Don and Jasper models, and adidas has enjoyed a great relationship with Run DMC and more recently, Jeremy Scott, Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Stella McCartney, etc.. The possibilities are endless for the Yeezy 3 if Kanye is given the green light to combine his creative genius with adidas's resources.
NBA MVP Derrick Rose has already publicly expressed interest in collaborating with his fellow Chicago native. Kanye's passion for art is well documented as well. He's previously teamed up with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami to curate his critically acclaimed Graduation album artwork. With adidas, Kanye might even have the opportunity to work with world-renowned fashion designer, Yohji Yamamoto and the folks at Y-3.
But I get it. To most experts, collaborations are purely about hype and does not directly contribute to the bottom line, which is profit. But a company’s willingness to sacrifice dollars for a celebrity endorsement and/or brand association cannot be taken for granted. ROI cannot always be measured solely by monetary means if you are continually striving to stay relevant and innovative. I promise, if Nike had Kanye endorse the Nike Air Monarch in any facet during his time there, New York City would be saturated with guys rocking leather joggers and Air Monarchs—much to Matt Powell's chagrin.
Yeezus boastfully rapped, “Hold up. I aint tryin’ to stunt man. But the Yeezys jumped over the Jumpman,” on his track “New God Flow.” During his "Made In America" set in Philadelphia, he altered a line from his braggadocios “Mercy” verse to “People is loitering just to feel important. You gon' see lawyers and people in Yeezys
Jordans.” To the masses, these may be ostentatious tweaks to his lyrics, but for Kanye, it’s a way of life—a mindset. This approach to his craft and creativity has cemented the Chicago rapper as one of the most polarizing creatives pop culture has ever seen. With his next major sneaker project being anchored by adidas, don't be surprised if the Yeezy 3 becomes the shoe that democratizes highly sought after collaborations.
Joe Sherman is a contributing writer for Complex and doesn't want to be reminded that he doesn't own a pair of Air Yeezys. You can follow him on Twitter here.