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Adidas Yeezy: How a star’s change of brands shook up the sneaker world

Andy Silva breaks down the history of the Adidas Yeezy line ahead of the April 9 restock of the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Zebra.”

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Street Style: January 11 - 91. Pitti Uomo Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

However you feel about Kanye West, there is no denying his Yeezy line has entered rare air in the sneaker stratosphere. Has he jumped over the Jumpman, as he once boasted? Hard to say. But, it’s also fair to say he’s had a major impact on Adidas’ bottom line.

Of course, it all started for Ye at the Swoosh. The Nike Air Yeezy 1 and Nike Air Yeezy 2 would foretell the future of the popularity of the Yeezy line. Specifically, the shock drop of the “Red October” Air Yeezy 2 broke the internet. The shoe saw multiple delayed launches and ultimately came out once it was announced that Ye would be taking his talents to the Three Stripes. Ultimately, the extremely limited availability whetted the public’s appetite for what would be coming next from Ye.

West’s move to Adidas started slow - at least when it came to his own line. West is, of course, famous for giving his seal of approval to the all-white Ultra Boosts at the Billboard Music Awards in 2015, sending that model into the stratosphere and to cultural relevancy beyond the sneaker world. Eventually, West and Adidas would release the Adidas Yeezy Boost 750, a mid-top boot-like shoe, and the original Yeezy Boost 350. Those shoes quickly sold out, and quantities remained relatively low. This led West to promise on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show that eventually everyone who wanted them would be able to buy a pair of Yeezys (move to about 17:25 in the clip below):

That brings us to the Yeezy Boost 350 V2s. The redesigned follow-up to the initial 350s brought a bit more design to the shoe while maintaining the knit upper that was so popular at that moment in time. Thanks to the variety of patterns and center stripes — including translucent, reflective and color-changing variants among others — the shoe has been a staple in recent years. Although initially limited in stock — including the popular “Zebra” colorway which is restocking on Saturday — the V2s eventually became more plentiful. Especially after the release of the “Triple White” colorway in September 2018.

Although subsequent releases may not have yielded quite as many pairs at release, the sheer number of 350 V2s entering the market has allowed for more people to get their hands on a pair of Yeezys, even if it may not be their first choice. Plus, perhaps taking a page from Jordan Brand’s retro playbook, there have been multiple restocks for many of the most popular 350 V2 colorways. The fact that the 350 V2s have become such a staple — probably the closest thing the Yeezy line has to the Air Jordan 1, for example — shows that this silhouette is likely not going anywhere anytime soon.

That being said, it doesn’t mean the Yeezy line is stagnant. New models are still springing forth from the mind of Ye. West described his design process to Forbes a couple of years back:

The Yeezy Boost 700 has proven to be a very popular entry into the “dad shoe” conversation, especially the “Wave Runner” colorway. Meanwhile, the Yeezy Foam RNR and Yeezy Knit RNR offer a more unique and out-there option for those looking to push the sartorial boundaries. There’s even the Yeezy QNTM, which includes a model designed with performance basketball in mind.

Has Yeezy jumped over the Jumpman? Like I said above, that’s hard to say (I would argue no, but I am an unabashed Michael Jordan fan). However, it’s impossible to be in the sneaker world without having an awareness or interest in the Yeezy line. Yeezys are clearly culturally relevant in a way almost no other sneaker line other than the Air Jordan line is and that in of itself is something to celebrate.

To purchase a pair of the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Zebra” restocking on April 9, click here: Adidas Confirmed app and Yeezy Supply website.

To see more of this month’s releases, check out our release date calendar.

If you have questions or just want to talk sneakers, hit on me up on Twitter — my username is @a_silva32.