Nike Air Yeezy: What were they thinking?

Name: Nike Air Yeezy

Designers: Nike and Kanye West Collaborative

Released: Spring 2009


There has always been a huge link between the sneaker world and the hip-hop world. Who can forget trying to explain to your parents why you would be wearing your Adidas Allstars with no laces. Reason…Run DMC was doing it NUFF SAID! From that time a lot of people have been following their fashion cues from their favourite hip-hop artist. So it is no surprise that many of sneaker companies have started to develop original shoes for hip-hop artists these days.  One of the more notable companies to take this risk was Reebok with their signature sneaker for Jay-Z called the S. Carter, which was HUGE success. As well as their signature line of sneakers for 50 Cent and posse with their G-Unit sneaker line that was well received by the sneaker community.

Enter the Kanye West and the Air Yeezy…first off, the Air Yeezy gets its name straight from Kanye himself. “Yeezy” is his nickname within the music world amongst many others that he has. This sneaker was designed to reflect the Nike’s rich sporting history with all the various designs and elements of Kanye’s very unique style.

To create the Air Yeezy, Kanye worked with Nike Creative Director Mark Smith.  West was taken through the same processes that Nike does for their athletes when they are developing a product for them.  It is stated that Mark Smith was very impressed with the way in which Kanye approached the project of developing his sneaker. It is even stated that he went on to call Kanye a “natural designer…” For West, it was a dream come true for him because it is stated that he had always wanted to design his own sneaker so when the opportunity came around he could not turn it down.

The goal of creating the Air Yeezy was to make a modern classic. So, Nike brought Kanye in for many one on one sessions to make sure that everyone was on the same page when creating this sneaker. Nike pulled out all the stops for Kanye, he was given access to all the same privileges that major athletes were given. Countless drawings and samples were made until they got Kanye’s vision right. It is stated that one of the key elements that they were trying to keep in mind Kanye’s powerful 2-3 hour live performances and making sure he feels very comfortable the whole time.

The Product:

It is stated that the ultimate goal when it came to creating the Nike Air Yeezy was comfort for Kanye West’s long and powerful performances. To do this West and Nike borrowed from both old and new innovations from Nike’s catalogue of sneakers.

One of the key items that this sneaker had was support for his ankles. To do this they made this sneaker with debossed ankle collar pods for added support and protection, a forefoot strap, original tension lace loops, extra-thick sock liners and Phlyon tooling taken from the 1987 classic Nike Air Assault for more comfort and performance. All these features were used to maintain that Kanye would always be comfortable when he was performing.

They also utilized a re-mastered version outsole of the Nike Air Assault for this sneaker, but they it was specially treated so that it would have glow-in-the-dark properties when it was seen in low light. This was to add more effect and highlight the sneaker while Kanye would be performing in them because his concerts often incorporate low lighting.

At the forefoot of the Air Yeezy there is a support strap that is constructed of premium grade patent leather. All around the sneaker there is an exclusive “Y” repeat pattern which is pretty stamped into the sneaker. It is stated that this detail was borrowed from the famous elephant print on the Air Jordan III.  At the heel of the sneaker there was an air bubble that was also key feature of the Air Jordan III as well as many of the sneakers released by Nike during that era.

In the spring of 2009 the Nike Air Yeezy was released to the masses and pretty much sold out everywhere at a price of $215 USD.  With the partnership that Kanye developed with Nike, they donated some of proceeds to the Kanye West Foundation.


Ummmm…where do I start? Well for one the shoe is TERRIBLE! I am shocked and appalled that no one has had the guts to call Nike or Kanye out on this one! It seems like everyone is so afraid of Kanye West that they were not willing to tell him that his sneakers didn’t quite make the cut of a “modern classic”. If you had a dream come true where you had complete access to Nike’s resources to create a sneaker you are telling me that you couldn’t come up with something better than that? COME ON!!!

This reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons where Homer finds his long lost brother, Herb, who is a wealthy automobile producer. Herb gives Homer the opportunity to create a car that caters to the needs of the everyday man and spares no expense at letting Homer create his dream vehicle. Homer in turn creates one of the most hideous pieces of garbage that anyone in the automotive world had ever seen.  Which after the release of the vehicle Herb goes bankrupt due to the fact that his credibility in the automotive world is shot! This my friends is no different…

Nothing about this sneaker makes sense…they state that they designed it for his concerts and for his “explosive” performances…yet he doesn’t dance or anything of that nature. I find this EXTREMELY hard to believe considering the GREATEST ENTERTAINER OF ALL TIME…Michael Jackson wore Sebagos aka Penny Loafers and would dance for hours to the point where one would question if the moves he was doing were humanly possible! So…that completely detracts from that point of his performances.

For those that SAY that they have a pair of them my question to you is WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING THEM?

When you look at the sneaker itself there is no telling what you can use it for. I guess you can say that it supposed to be a casual shoe, but it is pretty build up like the Nike Air Assault, which is a basketball sneaker…but you can’t play basketball in it?…well can you? When I saw this sneaker nothing about it made me want to go out and get it like what I feel whenever I see a new Air Jordan being released. To add insult to injury these “things” cost $215+ USD…that is more than a pair of Air Jordans and Air Jordans are actual functional shoes by someone that does athlete things in them!

As a sneaker enthusiast I have yet to see anyone but celebrities wearing this sneaker and as of lately they have stopped wearing them as well. For those that SAY that they have a pair of them my question to you is WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING THEM?

To add insult to injury I remember a pair of sneakers in the film Back to the Future 2 and for some reason the Air Yeezy reminded me of them. When I searched for them and was able to find a picture of them…umm…

To put this in perspective for you, remember this movie was released in 1989*SIGH* The design is not far off at all! Move a couple things around and you have the base of the Air Yeezy. How original do these sneakers seem to you now? I’m just saying…sorry but I think I will pass on this one…better luck with the Air Yeezy II.

  • Tallyhawk

    hahahaha! I couldn’t agree more. These joints get you no credibility.

  • Tallyhawk

    hahahaha! I couldn’t agree more. These joints get you no credibility.

  • R.J. Navia

    Wow, what a great piece. Every point made was spot on. That shoe is terrible! Makes me wonder if the other MJ had designed his own signature penny loafer. Kanye go back to the drawing board. Better yet don’t, you might be influenced by Louis Vuitton and use handles instead of laces!

  • Flo King

    LOL talk about insight! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kimbestrin

    well its just a matter of opinion, just cause i don’t like em, doesn’t mean they suck, and i don’t think people are that afraid of kanye to the point of buying his shoe. nice article just the conclusion sounds personal 

  • Kimbestrin

    well its just a matter of opinion, just cause i don’t like em, doesn’t mean they suck, and i don’t think people are that afraid of kanye to the point of buying his shoe. nice article just the conclusion sounds personal 

  • Jacky Lu

    how is this a sneakerhead site and your slamming this shoe? and the mags?!

  • Jacky Lu

    its clearly a fucking fashion sneaker, maybe youre a different type of sneaker head but the yeezy 2s are selling and have sold for thousands because its very cool shoe

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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.