The Making of the Nike Air Yeezy

By - September 16th, 2009

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Arguably one of the most hyped and well-received pairs of shoes in recent years was the Air Yeezy. Mr. West had direct involvement in the concept, execution, and details of the shoe–from the initial sketches to the colorway choice to the tooling. West   apparently got in touch with Mark Smith, who sculpted the Jordan XX3, to get the ideas cracking. Below you can see Kanye sketching preliminary ideas for the shoe which he said was inspired by the McFly. Some clear changes happened throughout the two year process to get the shoe released, but the overall concept seems to be present even in the first sketches. It’s amazing to see how the first ever non-athlete with a signature shoe from Nike designed his first shoe.

After meeting with Kanye, Smith gathered that Kanye wanted a clear Retro 80s feel without comprimising comfort. Apparently, Kanye wanted to include quite a few elements from his favorite shoes–the tongue height of the Jordan VI, the toe band on the III, and the molding of the V and II. This information may not be a revelation to those who follow Jordan releases, but it’s interesting that even the lace locks from the V are present on the Yeezys that were released. The colors were a collaborative effort, according to Smith, who said that the tan was mostly Kanye, the black and pink idea was his own, and the gray was a collaborative effort.

The “Y” design that seems to evoke the elephant print that began on the IIIs was a suggestion of Smith, who wanted the shoe to be more specific to Kanye, a motivation which also led to the unique and simple design on the lacelocks. Another amazing evolution was the incorporation of the glow soles that made the shoe a slam dunk. Early prototypes actually used a battery-powered LED blue sole, while the final product’s green sole was the result of extensive experimentation and honing. Overall, it’s no surprise that such a tremendous aesthetic and technical marvel like the Yeezy went through over two years of configuration before becoming the marvel that it is today. More at Sole Collector.

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