It’s February of 2018, and you know what that means! Another rendition of New York Fashion Week, arguably the most well known and famous series of fashion collections in the world. But you may be wondering from the title of this article what Kanye West has anything to do with this. After all, he is mainly known as a rapper, producer, and entrepreneur. When he isn’t creating beats and dropping bars in the studio, Kanye is busy designing new and eclectic clothing trends. His independent fashion label, Yeezy, and celebrated footwear line in collaboration with Adidas, also called Yeezy, are two of the most influential brands on the planet. This year will be the sixth iteration of his label and his Adidas line debuted in 2015. Before Adidas, Kanye had a footwear line with Nike, but they had a falling out after Nike refused to give Kanye royalties and his own official line. Kanye then reached out to Adidas and they accepted his terms. Anyway, enough about the past. Kanye is unique enough to host his own event without being affiliated with New York Fashion Week. Allow me to fill you in on his shows. Yeezy Season 1 and 2 were relatively quiet shows with decent clothes. However, he spared no expense on Season 3. He held Yeezy Season 3 in Madison Square Garden in 2016, 20,000 tickets were sold out and people still tuned in to watch from far away theatres and venues. It was also where he released his most recent album, The Life of Pablo, so it was basically a huge listening party with some clothes. To be honest, the clothes were a sideshow. Later in the fall, Yeezy Season 4 was even more controversial due to the nature of the show itself. First, the press was bussed to a secret location, which turned out to be Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. The event was poorly organized and had people waiting for four hours for the event to finally start. To top it all off, his models fainted left and right in the heat. Thankfully, Yeezy Season 5 turned out to be a little more subtle and actually managed to start on time.
Now, Kanye has decided to take advantage of the current climate, and use social media to maximize the promotion of his products. Last year, his wife, Kim Kardashian West, was seen modeling Season 6 on her Instagram. The shots could initially be mistaken for paparazzi pictures, but there is no urgency on the part of the photographer. Kim is relaxed and confident, seemingly without a care in the world. Posters of screenshots of Kim’s Instagram posts were plastered around the Art Basel Convention Center in Miami as well. The venue of the international art fair is one of the most popular places for artists in the world, and drew a lot of attention to Kanye’s promotion of his posters, bringing and it could be argued that they are art as well. Nothing more was heard about Yeezy Season 6 until just a few days ago when Kim Kardashian’s friends, including Paris Hilton, Jordyn Woods, Amina Blue, Shannon and Shannade Clermont, Sierra Skye, Kirsten Noel Crawley, Stassie Baby, Abigail Ratchford, Chinq Pink, Sami Miro, Sahara Ray, Sophie Mudd, Sarah Snyder and more recreated the original pictures. The predictable reaction to the campaign was one of awe and amazement. I think you can at least appreciate the sheer number of people who will be exposed to Kanye’s new collection. Kanye has always rebelled against the fashion establishment, but this takes the rebellion to another level. This goes beyond clever marketing and cultural commentary. Yeezy Season 6 introduces us to Kanye’s humorous side. The clothing itself does not look out of place in a regular athleisure store. His last seasons were all too serious and pretentious. Kanye was also daring enough to schedule his shows at the same time as that of another designer, forcing attendees to choose between him and the other person. His latest collection shows that Kanye and his family clearly dominate the cultural landscape and national conversation. Yeezy Season 6 also introduces us to his newest shoe, the Yeezy Desert Rat 500 Blush. It will release sometime in February or March and retail for $200. The Yeezy 500 seems to be another instance of Kanye embracing the clunky “dad sneaker” trend along with his Yeezy 700 Wave Runners, which released last year. There was already a lot of buzz surrounding these sneakers since a different colorway was previously only available as part of a $700 bundle with a sweatshirt and sweatpants. Now, a lot of people, myself included, cannot wait for this impending release. There is also another shoe in the form of Yeezy Season 6 Crepe Sneaker in a Thick Shaggy Suede ‘Chalk’ Colorway. It is currently on sale at select retailers for $400. Both shoes are an interesting step forward (no pun intended) for Kanye. It demonstrates his boldness in forming an entire collection around his unique laidback style.
Although Kanye deleted his social media accounts on Instagram and Twitter, his wife Kim Kardashian West has over 107 million followers on Instagram alone. She has another 58 million followers on Twitter. That audience alone comprises roughly half the population of the United States. And let’s not forget her sisters, Kourtney and Khloe, and her half-sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, who have a combined 310 million followers on Instagram. I’ll stop here since I think you get the point.
Technically, none of this may even be legal. The fashion blog The Fashion Law points out that according to the Federal Trade Commission, social media influencers must explicitly disclose their material connections, whether it be money, free clothes, or other perks. In other words, Kanye cannot present content that he pays for as coming from independent sources. The FTC’s rules regarding the nature of ad campaign do not apply to Yeezy in my opinion. All of the clothing is logo-less and is in a casual setting, as opposed to a photo-friendly artificial background. The method and distribution differ from traditional campaigns, which is genius. I do not know whether the FTC will conduct an investigation into this but either way Kanye has achieved his purpose of revealing the Yeezy Season 6 collection to as many people as possible without resorting to wasteful and showy procedures.
You may not agree with Kanye’s tactics, but you cannot deny the fact that he has effectively utilized social media to his own ends. He definitely deserves credit for that. The interesting thing is that the clothes are not even the focus of the campaign. It is the people. The models, the reactions, the commentary. Kanye is proving that expensive advertisements and runway shows aren’t needed to showcase a fashion brand. He has always been the best at rejecting old and outdated standards and creating new innovative ones. Maybe the traditional catwalk is not enough for our tastes anymore. Kanye forces us to confront the alternatives and consider different methods of communication and experimentation.