Nike Air Yeezy 1 Sneaker by Kanye West
Nike’s first ever collaboration with a non-athlete was a massive hit. The Nike Air Yeezy, which takes Kanye West’s nickname Yeezy, was designed by and for Kanye West. They were released in 2009 in very limited quantities.
Together with Nike Creative Director, Mark Smith, Kanye went through the same production creation process as all the different athletes Nike has worked with for many years. Kanye and Nike wanted to create a modern classic. An original Nike shoe that show components of Nike’s past as a sports brand, and combines them with Nike innovation to deliver a one-of-a-kind pair of sneakers.
The Air Yeezy took inspiration and reference from a few of Nike’s most iconic sneakers. The Phylon sole was implemented from the 1987 Nike Air Assault sneaker, most known for the usage on the Air Jordan 3, for added performance and comfort. It’s further sports debossed ankle collars for extra protection and support, a support strap, extra-thick sock liners, and original functional tension lace loops.
The Nike Air Yeezy featured premium full grain leather uppers and were decked with original and distinct design details that Kanye and Nike successfully delivered. One of the most notable features was the glow-in-the-dark Nike swoosh and outsoles, which illuminate when the light is low. The support strap was made of premium patent leather and had an exclusive “Y” pattern on the Grey and Black models. The premium suede toe wrap also featured the exclusive “Y” repeat pattern. The Black model is the only one of the three that had lasered details along the upper, which took inspiration from the Jordan brands iconic Elephant print material.
The concept behind the Air Yeezy sneakers, according to Kanye West, was to take the same type of color palette and talent that are used on high end fashion sneakers, and place it to a better sneaker with more affordability.
High end fashion sneakers like Lanvin or Balenciaga’s are priced from $500 and up, while the Air Yeezy sneakers were retailed at below $300 USD. Kanye was right as people reacted to that, they wanted that, a high quality sneaker with great design and an affordable price.
With a retail price of $215 USD, the Nike Air Yeezy came in 3 colorways each limited to only 3000 total pairs:
The Zen Grey / Light Charcoal released on April 4, 2009.
The Black / Black – Pink (Blinks) released on May 2nd, 2009.
The Net / Net released on June 7, 2009.
Many people didn’t get a chance to purchase due to the very limited quantity. The demand was high, so high that the shoe saw resale prices climb to over $1000 USD. The Nike Air Yeezy became one of, if not the best sneaker release of 2009.
The following years, fans and sneakerheads were already waiting for the next instalment, the highly anticipated Nike Air Yeezy 2 sneakers. The Nike Air Yeezy 2 became even harder to obtain.
What do you think of the Nike Air Yeezy? Which one is your favorite color? Do you own a pair or did you passed up on the opportunity? Would you consider these classic sneakers? Lastly, would you cop them still now if they were available? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Pictures courtesy of: Nicekicks