Let’s talk about the Kanye West Nike backstory for a minute. What really went down there? Did Nike miss out on a hella fire deal? Or, did they dodge a bullet? Let’s find out more.
So, if we take a trip down Kanye’s sneaker lane, you’d notice tons of variety. He worked with so many different brands with different styles before landing a deal with the Three Stripes. Kanye worked with Louis Vuitton on some high-end, luxury sneakers. He claims to be the uncredited designer of Balmain and Giuseppe Zanotti’s popular high-top sneaker styles. Ye also worked with A Bathing Ape on College Dropout in 2007. HOWEVER, the collaboration that truly makes us wonder is the Kanye West Nike collaboration!
Isn’t it strange that Ye would collaborate with Nike, only to go ahead and join its greatest nemesis? It is no secret that Nike and Adidas are always going head to head trying to come out on top. Although, recently it hasn’t been much of a race with Nike taking the throne. But, let’s talk about it either way!
KANYE WEST NIKE
The Kanye West Nike partnership started back in 2007 when the Swoosh decided to sign someone who wasn’t an athlete. It was actually the very first time that Nike ventured outside the realm of sports and into the music industry.
Then, all the way through the year 2008, you could always find Kanye wearing different Yeezy prototypes. Some of these colorways joined the unreleased Yeezy archives and didn’t even hit the shelves. It wasn’t until April (2009) that Kanye finally dropped the Nike Air Yeezy I in ZEN GREY. Later that same year he dropped two other colorways – a black version and a beige one. You can still find them on the aftermarket, but they might cost you a few organs.
After seeing how much of a success the Nike Air Yeezy I was, they decided to develop another one! The Swoosh announced the Nike Air Yeezy II in 2012 in the Pure Platinum and Solar Red colorway. The Red October dropped later on with only 5,000 pairs in production. It remains one of the rarest Yeezys to date!
The Kanye West Nike partnership was unfortunately yet fortunately very short-lived. The fallout actually began before the release of the Red Octobers. Reportedly, Kanye had no idea when they were going to drop. In fact, he claims that he had to repeatedly ask Nike for release information and Ye obviously didn’t like this.
He went on to rant during his performance in the 2013 MTV Music Awards dragging Nike for losing their culture.
“I’m talking directly to you. No miscommunication,” West said. “Did you not want the Yeezys? Nike would make you believe it was my fault that you couldn’t get them, but that was not the case. I wanted there to be as many Yeezys as there was LeBrons, and I wanted them to be at a good price, but that was not my choice, and we’re going to change everything. And … I’m going to create more than you think that any musician in the history of time ever could have.”
Kanye even discussed the terms of his relationship with Nike during an interview with Zane Lowe on BBC. Around that time, Nike had reportedly tried smoothing things over with Ye, but it was ultimately too late. Kanye felt that his level of skill and designs deserved much more control and earning royalties. This was something they could not offer. In another interview with Charlamagne tha God, Kanye claimed the brand offered to pay some of the proceeds to charity.
AND THEN WHAT?
So, when did the Kanye West Nike collaboration come to an end? This was the type of situation where it was over before it actually was over. Kanye had even stopped wearing the Nike Air Yeezys for quite some time before the end of the partnership. Some people relate the drop surprise release of the Red Octobers to Nike’s final move at severing ties. Nike announced the release via a Tweet and it sold out in 10 minutes.
And although Nike was generating tons of heat in the sneaker industry, Kanye decided to take a different approach. And that’s where the Adidas Kanye West collaboration began in December of 2013. This is what he said in an interview with New York’s Hot 97 today on Angie Martinez’s radio show:
“I took the Adidas deal because I have royalties and I have to provide for my family,” West said in the interview. He also claimed that Nike refused to give him royalties because he was not a professional athlete.
The loss of the Kanye West Nike partnership was the biggest gain for the Three Stripes. He developed the BILLION dollar Yeezy empire and a complete legacy!
KANYE WEST NIKE… AGAIN?
Finally, years after the Kanye West Nike relationship ended, Ye played with the fire. You probably know what we’re talking about!
On July 7th, 2021, Kanye attended the Balenciaga 50th Couture Collection show for Paris Fashion Week. But, that’s not the weird part. He chose to wear Adidas Yeezy Foam Runners, a Yeezy Gap puffer jacket, and $7 black Nike socks. Not to mention the full face mask. But, we were all focused on the socks anyways. He even posted a series of pictures on IG with a caption that said “Nike socks”.
Kanye has recently deleted all of his IG posts and wiped it entirely clean. We still don’t know whether this insinuates a rekindled relationship with Nike. Or is this just a Kanye being Kanye. Or maybe it’s just Kanye’s way of saying that he does NOT give AF whatsoever. Guess we’ll have to wait and see!