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How Kanye West Made The World Respect His Designs

Yeezy Season 2 finds power in anonymity.

September 16, 2015

YEEZY, Performance 2, NYC #nyfw #yeezy #kanyewest #vanessabeecroft #fashion

A photo posted by Jordana Maisie (@jordanamaisie) on

From the first wave of models marching out in military roll call, it was clear Kanye is set on building a distinctive identity as a designer that will withstand the vagaries of trends. The instantly recognizable Yeezy duck boots and high-top Yeezy Boost 750 will, inevitably, get the most attention, but it's the clothes, with their insistent unremarkableness, that speak to Kanye's design abilities. Without distinguishing labels, graphics, or prints, Yeezy's clothing is plain—its merits forced to stand on their own without the immediately apparent mark of their maker. Refusing to acknowledge any type of outside influence beyond his first collection, Kanye pushed his muted palette of pale neutrals even further in Season Two. Models came out in color-coded, sand-blasted waves: pale nudes, dusty pinks, browns with red undertones, washed-out greens and faded purples.


Part of the amusing allure of Kanye's clothes—especially when he and Kim wear them on the red carpet—is their sheer unremarkability. The collection's power comes from its homogeneity.

Hundreds of people attended screenings worldwide to get a glimpse at the glitziest event at NYFW; a designation Kanye's designs, with their emphasized anonymity, actively resist. It's a playful and arresting premise: the most high-profile people in American fashion (and beyond) got together to watch this sequence of low-profile uniformity. Snapbacks were pulled low over the models' eyes while they stomped the runway in oversized sweatshirts and suede bomber jackets: Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner were both in the mix, but you'd hardly know it. Yeezy Season is about blending and camouflage, but with the quality level, price point, and exclusivity expected by the super-famous.


Stay young.

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Season Two still relied on thin underpinnings like leggings and leotards, but this time around there was a tangible focus on outerwear. There were shirts with kimono-like closures, oversized hoodies, billowing pant legs. Loose salmon trousers had side slits running up to the knee. The vibe was still Mad Max, but much further in the future, when they begin to rebuild society and start wearing pants again.


It's difficult to think of a collection from this decade that got as much real-world attention as Yeezy Season One. It was, as intended, extremely divisive. You do not pair nude leotards with nude leggings and send them out under a $5,000 coat unless you are trying to provoke. For Season Two, though, Kanye seems to want to soothe those earlier provocations and present a collection that has the aesthetic conviction of the first, with just a bit more actual utility. The collection presented has, at its core, a mix-and-match ethos: it's easy to imagine any one Yeezy garment playing well with the others in the average closet. It's an evolution that's not about commercialism—if Yeezy Season One had ever officially gone on sale, it would have been snatched up in minutes—but about proving his seriousness as a designer. Kanye knows you're buying what he's selling (no matter how much you mock it), he just wants to feel like he's earned it.

To those that second guessed.

A photo posted by @virgilabloh on

How Kanye West Made The World Respect His Designs