Few pop cultures are as divisive in fashion as Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Despite the seemingly constant controversy surrounding him, the 21-time Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist’s status as an influence on global fashion is undeniable.
The rapper and designer has become known for his much-hyped billion-dollar Yeezy sneaker collaboration with Adidas, and more recently, his tie-up with mall mainstay Gap on “Yeezy Gap,” which is predicted will generate more than $150 million in revenue in 2022. Prior to the launch of his Adidas line, Ye worked with names like Nike and Louis Vuitton on sneakers, with A.P.C on a collection of menswear and launched ready-to-wear label Yeezy. He also starred alongside his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian — who’s sleek style transformation he is credited with prompting — in Balmain's Spring/Summer 2015 campaign.
Ye has made fashion showmanship a key component of his tours and a recurring theme in his lyrics. For his sell-out 2014 Yeezus tour, Ye collaborated with Maison Martin Margiela to create the show wardrobe which included crystal studded face masks, embroidered bombers, blanket coats and ponyskin versions of his sneakers. In 2021, he collaborated with Balenciaga creative director Demna (formerly known by his full name, Demna Gvasalia ) to produce a show for the release of his 10th studio album, Donda. Donda’s debut saw Ye masked, and wearing a bulletproof vest, as well as a spiked Jacket from Balenciaga’s apocalyptic Autumn/Winter 2020 collection. The event coincided with the midnight release of Yeezy Gap’s first product for pre-order. In January 2022, Ye announced an unprecedented mashup of celebrity, high-fashion and accessible retail: Yeezy Gap will introduce items “engineered by Balenciaga” and Demna
Ye’s Yeezy line has released seven collections from 2015 to 2020. Its shows at New York and Paris Fashion Weeks featured diverse models, many of whom were street cast, in militaristic designs.
Though the Ye-Nike relationship broke down during negotiations about royalties and creative control, Ye’s Air Yeezy I and II designs for Nike set a new standard for resale values. He continued his reign over sneakerheads through an Adidas partnership that saw the creation of the Yeezy Boosts, whose first drop sold out within ten minutes and has made the Yeezy shoe line one of the world’s most successful sneaker labels.
Raised in Chicago,Ye began rapping in the third grade. The musician maintained a keen interest in art and design: He attended art school for a single semester, before dropping out to pursue music entirely in the late 1990s.