Reading: Kanye West Influence on Mainstream Fashion

Kanye West Influence on Mainstream Fashion

Y’all can’t match my hustle
You can’t match hustle
Lock yourself in a room doing 5 beats a day for 3 summers

This was Kanye West on the track Spaceship on his debut album, “The College Dropout”. Before being known for crashing award shows and the Kardashians, West was a producer. He mostly worked behind the scene’s known for his soul-sampling beats. It was an uphill battle for West to be taken seriously as a rapper who possessed legitimate bars. As we all know, West eventually won and is now one of the most popular artists of the past decade. The fight to be become legitimate has played out again in his career, only this time in the realm of fashion. The Louis Vuitton Don’s reach in sneakers can’t be questioned, but his appeal beyond his fan’s and streetwear fuccbois has always been scrutinized. With the year Ye is having in 2016 (even with the Yeezy season 4 fiasco), it’s a safe assumption that his appeal and influence in fashion is concrete. Let’s connect the dots and map out why his appeal in the industry is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Established a Design Aesthetic

Ever since Yeezy season 1, West has established a clear-cut design aesthetic that is easily recognizable whether you follow fashion or not. Baggy, oversized, distressed, muted colours have become the signature silhouette of the Yeezy Line. Do a quick #yeezy search on Instagram, and you’ll see tons of men trying their best to imitate the collection with clothing that has not been touched by West. Distressed, oversized clothing is nothing new in the realm of fashion but to the casual non-observer of fashion these techniques are now branded Yeezy due to West’s mainstream magnitude. Another tell of the Yeezy impact is seen with fast fashion. Retailers such as H&M and Zara don’t hide behind the fact that they appropriate from high fashion. Since the launch of his partnership with Adidas both fast fashion conglomerates have already begun selling collections that are clearly reminiscent of his line.

A photo posted by YEEZY RUSSIAN (@yeezyrussian) on

Utilizing Tour Merch

When it was first reported that West had indeed left Nike for the three stripes, he proudly proclaimed that his designs, clothing, and sneakers were for everyone. It was a disappointment for many that his debut collection saw jaw-dropping high prices and very scarce supply. To combat the notion that not everyone will be able to afford and/or get their hands on Yeezy apparel and sneakers, West has used his tour merch to feed the masses. The Life of Pablo merchandise has become equally as covetable as his collections. While the tour merch and Yeezy season have no direct link to one another, audiences still value anything that is remotely co-signed and designed by West himself. His recent pop-up store created hours-long line up’s in cities across the globe showcased fans were yearning for anything West related. The North American Saint Pablo Tour merch has continued his hot streak. T-shirts, hoodies, and dad hats are a hot commodity at every Saint Pablo show. West who is credited as the one who revived music tour merch, and has done so again. Each show the rapper has performed, has seen city specific merch. He sold 780,000 dollars worth of merchandise in just one night at Madison Square Garden eclipsing the Pope.

A photo posted by Hi (@beautifulcountries999) on

Creating an Experience out of Fashion

West has created an experience with fashion. Participating in his vision of fashion is more than swiping your credit or handing over cash. Obtaining West endorsed product is always the end goal, but the apparel and footwear are injected with a priceless experience. The elusive pair of Yeezy’s or that Pablo hoodie you’re eagerly waiting in line for becomes elevated simply by anticipating it in a long queue. Crossing your fingers that you won a raffle for those elusive pairs of Yeezy’s boots, or patiently waiting for the stream of his fashion show to start, Kanye has created a spectacle out of participation. For many who lose out simply due to the lack of supply, or do not purchase anything at all, the experience of becomes the unattainable product.


Room For Expansion

It’s no secret that Kanye has always been vocal for a bigger and bigger sandbox to create in. The recent announcement is Adidas is doubling down on their partnership with West. Adidas has the operations, scalability, and clout to support the rapper’s larger than life ambitions. The expansion line, Adidas + KANYE WEST is West’s biggest sandbox yet. The current plan is to open brick and mortar locations, and lot’s of them. If it were up to West, he would like about 200 of them by next year. The extended partnership will also include an introduction to performance based Yeezy shoes, which made their debut last week on NFL player Von Miller. An infant clothing line, as well as a separate jewellery line have also been confirmed by West to arrive in the very near future. One of the oldest streetwear marketing gimmicks to generate buzz and by restricting supply to create demand. West and Adidas are going the opposite direction. Both the brand and rapper are betting that the demand for West is so great that they can completely flood the market while the demand will follow.

A photo posted by Kanye West (@kanyewest) on


I can see a thousand years from now in real life
Skate on the paradigm and shift it when I feel like

These are the lyrics of the record Saint Pablo. A much more confident Kanye that understands just how wide his influence has come away from the mic and studio and in cut and sew and sneakers.

A photo posted by YEEZY BOOSTS (@yeezyboosts) on