A Brief Theory on How Kanye West and Yeezy Season 1 Will Democratize Fashion, Even at Those Insane Prices

He knows H&M and Zara are going to rip him off. We don't think he cares.

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Image via Complex Original
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Unless you're a Saudi prince, the first thing you'll realize when shopping the Kanye West x adidas Yeezy Season 1 collection is that it is very, very, very expensive. There's no doubt that the primary backlash to this first drop will mainly be people complaining about what are, objectively, high prices.
Anyone who wants to get a look that's similar to this collection—billowing tops and trim bottoms with military and sportswear direction in a dusty color palette—without dropping a small fortune only has to wait a few weeks before fast-fashion megapowers like H&M and Zara begin knocking off Season 1 and offer similar-looking but far inferior quality garments with double digit price tags.
It's become the predictable cycle of a hyper-globalized apparel industry: intel is quickly gathered from the runways of Paris, Milan, and New York; labor and material costs are pushed down to keep prices as low as possible; nimble distribution reaches a global scale and product turnover is kept at a rapid pace until consumers tire of it and move onto the next trend. This has become the de facto process, and it's a reality all popular designers now face.
Most individuals would be fucking pissed when fast-fashion retailers start offering a copy of their vision for a fraction of the original price. Getting straight ripped by these global chains cheapens their craft, essentially saturates the marketplace with their product, and ruins the exclusivity of the brand's aesthetic.
Strangely, I kinda have a feeling this may be exactly what Kanye wants.
Kanye is privy to how this game works, and knows these monoliths are going to absolutely yank his shit. But here's the thing: he's always wanted to offer his vision at mass market price points, which most people can afford in an effort to step up their aesthetics. He's said before that "My end goal 10 years from now would be to have everything at a Zara level."
Well guess what? Even with adidas on his side at the moment, Ye doesn't have the production and distribution capacities yet to truly cater to the masses. But by pushing his specific vision out there at, yes, wildly high prices, a trickle down effect of his singular vision has been initiated, which will arrive on Zara's racks and on the masses' backs in a very short time.
With the big picture intention of elevating the general standard in taste and design across the full spectrum of society, seeing his designs copied and sold at a very accessible price point should, in a weird way, excite him.
Of course, simply partnering with a place like Zara and Target on product that merges his vision with global resources would probably result in outerwear that clocks in under $4,000. But if Yeezy pulled a Lauren Conrad and worked with Kohl's, or took a page out of his wife's playbook and partnered with Sears, the devastating blow to the collective cachet, not to mention a serious dip in quality, would probably sink the project off the rip. Partnering with adidas made sense for numerous reasons, but who knows? Since it looks like adidas isn't as involved with Season 2, maybe Ye's options are open to create a new deal that allows for a holy trifecta of scaling up in quantity, retaining the quality of Season 1, and lowering prices.
During the Yeezy Season 1 fashion show back in February, a pre-recorded speech played over the speakers before models stepped onto the runway space. Kanye's main point in the soliloquy was that this effort was all about "cracking the pavement" of the establishment and telling all the aspiring kids out there to stop hesitating and start chasing their creative dreams. Again, it's just a theory, but if democratizing fashion and bringing an element of high-design to a mass audience in an effort to lift all creative ships truly is Kanye's end goal, then simply releasing pursuing and releasing Yeezy Season 1 is the first big step in that direction.

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