Kanye West’s long rollout for YEEZY Season 6 is getting better and more meta by the day. Last week, the limitations on YeezySupply.com meant that anybody looking to cop the Desert Rat 500 had to do so with a pair of shorts and hoodie in the shopping basket, too. It was a low-key “fuck you” to resellers and pushed the idea that this season of YEEZY is designed to be worn head-to-toe.
YEEZY’s latest drop was covertly modeled by Kim Kardashian, who was styled by Carine Roitfeld and shot in faux-paparazzi style while doing her daily business in LA. The palpable level of self-awareness here shows that even if Kanye has been relatively “quiet” this year, he’s still paying critical attention to the zeitgeist and how to hack it.
The most recent marketing for YEEZY Season 6 showed up this weekend, when screenshots of Kim’s Instagram were crudely pasted on walls in Miami. Nothing much is known about them right now, but they draw a lot of attention to where Kanye’s head is at, and what YEEZY might be turning out for the future.
So why Miami? Firstly, and obviously, because Art Basel. The five-day international art fair gathers a certain kind of person — artists, designers, pseudo-relevant influencers — into one place. This temporarily makes the walls of the Art Basel Convention Center some of the hottest real estate in the world. Effectively, it guarantees that the right people will see it.
Secondly, it can’t be ignored that this was an art convention. In this context, we can easily imagine Kanye presenting these posters as “art” in itself. In a 2013 interview with Sway In The Morning, Kanye memorably said “I Am Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation, in the flesh. I am Shakespeare, Walt Disney. Nike. Google”.
The fact that he reeled off comparisons to a pop artist, a poet and a corporation in the same breath is indicative of the way Kanye views his place in the world: as a creative transgressor of art and commerce. YEEZY has always strived to be Kanye’s bridge between these two, often conflicting, worlds.
The posters, printed as un-retouched screenshots, are also indicative of how we receive images in 2017: with comments. Instagram’s comments are part-and-parcel of the platform, so it’s difficult to divorce them from what we’re looking at. Although Kim’s account has recently been trolled by some livid Taylor Swift fans, comments such as “Love it. Completely obsessed” surely color our perception in some way.
The marketing for Season 6 suggests that after years of feeling excluded and rejected from the fashion world, Kanye is actually able to reject the fashion industry, too. The posters are rough-looking, emblematic of DIY culture, and a further rebuff to the idea that fashion collections need to be announced with runway shows and expensive campaigns. YEEZY Season 3 was unveiled to great effect at Madison Square Garden, alongside a The Life of Pablo listening party, but it’s a near-impossible act to replicate. What’s Kanye supposed to do, record a whole new album every time he wants to release some clothes?
Pulling out of fashion week and presenting YEEZY Season 6 on Kanye’s own terms, and to his schedule, is what many fashion brands would do if only they weren’t so ingrained in the rhythm of Spring/Summer-Fall/Winter. It’s 2017 for crying out loud; nobody does anything just because that’s “the way it’s always been” anymore — YEEZY is one of the first brands to unshackle from the broken system, along with Vetements.
Earlier this year, Demna Gvasalia and co. decided to emancipate themselves from the rigmarole of fashion week and instead previewed their SS18 lookbook in a multistory parking lot with free booze. However, Vetements just did a 180 and announced it’ll be back to showing on the regular fashion circuit, in some capacity at least, come Paris fashion week in January.
The rollout for Season 6 also shows the ways in which YEEZY might be coming into its own as a brand; growing up and learning from past mistakes. After the underwhelming reaction to Season 5 and the shocker of Season 4, where fashion journalists were sent to Roosevelt Island and models fainted in the heat, YEEZY as a brand is starting to understand that it’s best operated when it’s doing what Kanye (and Kim) do best: manipulating the fuck out of the internet.
As YEEZY Season 6 pre-orders aren’t shipping until March, we’re anticipating this drop to roll out in waves, hopefully with some more product available soon. We’re gassed to see what Kanye pulls out the bag next.
Now find out why Kanye’s Desert Rat 500 drop was the smartest thing he did all year.