Following the grand unveiling of Kanye West's first collaborative line with adidas Originals, Highsnobiety's editorial team share their thoughts and opinions on what is sure to be among the most talked about fashion stories of the year.
As lovers and critics of streetwear and fashion, the grand unveiling of Kanye West's debut line with adidas Originals - sure to be one of the most divisive collections of the year - naturally prompted a flurry of debate amongst Highsnobiety's editorial team. The 95 looks and accompanying footwear - presented in a bleak industrial setting created by contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft fitting of West's recent musical output - certainly makes for a bold opening statement, but our opinions remain divided on the scope, originality and depth of the collection.
In line with our ongoing series of debate pieces, we bring our initial thoughts and first impressions on the collection, ahead of its release later in the year.
Please feel free to weigh in your own opinion in the comments below.
If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Show, Don't Show Anything At All
I pride myself on my judgement but when it comes to Kanye's latest antics, I usually decide to sit it out. He's been so hit and so miss throughout the trajectory of his career that now it's mostly just a blur of egotistical indulgence. That said, my first impressions of YEEZY SEASON 1 were relatively positive. The tonal, muted shades were nice, and the accumulation of layers certainly encapsulated Kanye's style - or at least the style he's been championing as of late. But that's a style that has morphed so dramatically it's just become a reflection of his interests and influencers of the time - much like the rest of his creative outputs. So it's unsurprising that the collection feels a little like a diffusion line of Rick Owens - though I'm sure Owens would be keen to refute that comparison.
There are elements that I find interesting; the apparent dystopian subtext and his explanation that the collection was born out the shadows of the London riots, in particular. But stick Kim Kardashian in it and any integrity is completely dissolved. These are issues that should be dealt with seriously, not used glibly in order to gain credibility - and alongside a serious epidemic of camel toe of all things.
In his introduction to the collection, Kanye says, "there's a lack of creativity in every field, because people are afraid." People aren't afraid Kanye - artists aren't fearful - they just don't have the exposure you get. Respect that.
Goddamn, Yeezy, How He Hit ‘em with a Not-Necessarily-New-but-On-Point Style
Kanye West’s inaugural collection with adidas Originals should come as no surprise to those who have followed his sartorial evolution over the past few years. What is a surprise, however, is how cohesive the collection turned out. An earthy, post-apocaltypic aesthetic runs throughout as a sort of visual representation of his gritty Death Grips-esque album Yeezus. Sure, some designs are informed by those ‘Ye looks up to, but overall West’s design philosophy comes through clearly and right on the money.
Tattered ‘90s grunge has been teetering on the verge of mainstream acceptance for a while and Kanye's elevation of it in the form of an us-versus-them militia might just give it that extra push it needs to get past the tipping point. The collection’s layering and stacking is certainly reflective of current trends while references to Rick Owens’ signature draped, nomadic garb - an obvious starting point for doom-laden designs - are carefully avoided.
Although Yeezy may not have necessarily hit ‘em with a new style, he’s successfully and impressively channeled the aesthetic he’s been championing ever since Rick Rubin helped refine his sound in 2013.
Kanye Favors Style Over Substance in Dazzling Show
At 90 looks, Kanye West's collaboration with adidas Originals runs the risk of losing its edge in the sheer bulk of the collection. Consistent with the rapper-cum-designer's penchant for theatricality, the presentation itself was undoubtedly stunning. Still, questions remain about whether the results live up to the hype.
Footwear proved the most convincing of elements in the collection, while pants and shorts seemed disproportionately weak – more like placeholders than anything else. Meanwhile, the novelty of the solid yet familiar-looking tops and jackets could wear thin. The bullet proof vest and camo jacket seem particularly transitory in that regard.
Couched somewhere between Cormac McCarthy's The Road and the Private Military Contractor look, the clothes presented are reminiscent of the Yeezus sound. If you disregard Mr. West's proclivity for eccentric off-script behavior, an outline begins to emerge that gives his output over the last couple of years greater definition.
This is a grand apocalyptic vision that has less to do with the artist's hometown of Chicago, than the techno landscapes of a Detroit or Berlin. In that regard at least this collection is a thorough, if cold, success.
Kanye Hates to Smile and So Does His Clothing
YEEZY SEASON 1 hardly seems like a collaboration at all. Sure, Kanye may have taken money from the Three Stripes and borrowed the highly touted Boost technology, but the collection is starkly void of adidas DNA. The partnership represents an interesting exercise in cobranding and now that the dust has settled, the collaboration seems less concerned with genuine brand synergy and more focused on how the German sportswear brand hopes to gain market visibility by working with the esteemed musician-turned-designer.
Aesthetically, Kanye’s use of camouflage, military cues and distressing was hardly groundbreaking, but the collection’s dystopian energy did come across as consistent. Continuing an interesting trend that has been favored by Kanye’s designer contemporaries Jerry Lorenzo and Shayne Oliver, among others, the individual pieces worn together create an acute sense of uniformity. It is no coincidence that Fear of God apparel is best styled with…you guessed it, more Fear of God, and the same can be said about YEEZY SEASON 1.
While the Yeezy 750 Boost is still the biggest talking point, the Low iteration was by-and-large the most wearable article of footwear in the presentation. Consequently, fans now have the choice between West and Yamamoto, although for me, Y-3 still wins out.
At the end of the day, I almost feel the most excited about the featured soundtrack “Wolves” featuring Vic Mensa. Sidebar, the inclusion of so-called youth influencers Ian Connor and Luka Sabbat was hugely unnecessary.
A Brave, if not Entirely Original, Vision of the Apoc-ye-lipse
Given the man’s tenacity and enduring place in the public eye, it’s not hard to imagine that, come the Armageddon, Kanye will still be standing when the dust settles. Fitting, then, that YEEZY SEASON 1 looks like the wardrobe choice of some dystopian sci-fi blockbuster – equal parts “real-world” The Matrix and Children of Men. Whether either of those films were an actual reference point, we’ll likely never know, but the androgynous bodysuits, destroyed overgarments and copious military attire all suggest a crumbling vision of the future we’ve seen a number of times before. Kanye’s simply co-signed it.
Even with his approval, however, this kind of calculated shabby chic isn’t easy to pull off. The abundance of green puts it pretty much on its own among Fall/Winter 2015 collections we’ve seen this season, and it doesn’t exactly sit alongside adidas’ other output either. That said, this collection didn’t really feel like it came from adidas at all; they were merely the executive producer to Kanye’s own experimental cinematic debut.
If his split with Nike was a seismic moment, this was the fallout. And, while it’s not exactly the End of the (Fashion) World as we know it, there’s a maturity here that shows real promise if it can survive the toxic aftermath.
Kanye Tackles Doomsday in Bold but Understated Collection
1984’s Big Brother was certainly watching as Kanye unveiled the post-apocalyptic designs behind his highly-anticipated collaboration. A default covet by hoards of fuccbois worldwide, the line’s slouchy cuts, absence of branding and military aura make for bold pieces both humble and versatile, when worn in moderation.
The collection’s muted austerity can be compared to (if not an overt derivative of) the designs of Rick Owens, apparent through the selection of moth-eaten jumpers, earthy color palette and pragmatic wearability. The range of offerings perhaps wears thin due to its sheer size, but for every model donning nude-colored spandex there comes a piece reflective of Yeezy’s inflated, if not brilliant, artistry.
A black plush bomber, shearling-collared, aqua military coat and scoop-necked, double-layered sweat-tee were just a handful of the line’s minimal statement pieces, while the revelation of woven Boost low-tops (following the rather underwhelming, overhyped Boost 750s) lifted expectations for Yeezy’s latest footwear offerings.
When stripped of its palatial celebrity attendance and theatrical non self-awareness, the show felt like a frank presentation parallel to the collaboration’s prudent creativity.