By: Mike DeStefano, Matt Welty, Ben Felderstein
Some used to laugh at the idea of a rapper being the biggest name in sneakers. They could never outsell NBA superstars or gain the respect of footwear industry stalwarts. Then came Kanye West. It all started in 2009 with the release of his Nike Air Yeezy I, then came a Louis Vuitton collection, the Air Yeezy II, a move to Adidas, and so the story goes. Of course there are shoes he’s done before that: Unreleased Reebok S. carters and Nike Air Max 180s. But the true passion of West as a footwear designer was actualized when he got his own sneaker, the Yeezy, and now in all of its iterations.
14. Yeezy Crepe sneaker
$450, for these? Nah – Matt Welty
13. Adidas Yeezy Calabasas Powerphase
This sneaker shouldn’t be on the list. I fought hard to exclude it, but it wasn’t the hill to die on. Out of all the sneakers on this list, the calabasas Powerphase wasn’t a Sneaker designed by Kanye West. Sure there are the slightest of tweaks, but it’s an archival shoe from 1986 that has gold lettering on the side. With that said, I actually like this sneaker and would wear it. If we are ranking shoes based on design, though, this hardly has any. Some say less is more when it comes to design, and that’s true. But come on, man. – Matt Welty
12. Louis Vuitton Mr. Hudson
Mr Hudson declared that he wants to be “forever young” on the JAY-Z track of the same name in 2009. Nobody has heard of him since. His name will live in infamy thanks to Mr. Kanye West, who named one of his three Louis Vuitton sneakers after the silver-haired crooner. This shoe really rides the fine line of being sneaker or not. It is a boat shoe, but it has the same sole as the rest of the Louis Vuitton x Kanye models. So it gets the pass. – Matt Welty
11. Adidas Yeezy Boost 750
In June of 2016, Kanye West joined on the summer jam stage at the Meadowlands by fellow G.O.O.D music rapper Travis Scott, 2 chainz, Big Sean, Pusha T, and Desiigner. Their joint performance was notable, but it was what was on their feet that stole the show. West and his disciples were laced in the new Yeezy Boost 750 in its Grey/Gum colorway that released just a few days following this memorable outing. Built more like a boot than an actual sneakers, the 750, while not easiest shoe in the Yeezy catalogue to pull off, is one of the best built. Having been shelved since October 2016 and being limited to only four retail colorways, a new drop would be a welcomed change of place to the Adidas Yeezy market. – Ben Felderstein
10. Adidas Yeezy Boost 700 V2
Why fix it if it’s not broke? The Adidas 700 is one of the best Kanye West sneakers of all time. The 700 V2 isn’t bad, but it’s much, if any, improvement on the original design. With that said, the first shoe is so good that the regurgitated design- or slightly tweaked, whichever way you look at it-is still pretty decent –Matt Welt.
9. Adidas Yeezy 380
It is kind of like a 350, but not re ally. It is not bad, but it is not great. A shoe that will hit the masses. Need time for this shoe to sink in. – Matt Welty.
8. Adidas Yeezy 500
When the Yeezy 500 debuted in December 2017, it was met with immediate negativity by many because it was only available if you purchased a $760 clothing bundle. All future colorways would release sans the mandatory Kanye West garments and the public reception shifted, but it is safe to say the initial launch was somewhat of a botch. Despite the minor biccup, the silhouette is one of Kanye’s more interesting designs with the unconventional shape of its suede and mesh upper aligning perfectly with the chunky trend dominating sneakers at the time. Borrowing the mid sole from Kobe Bryant’s KB3 signature model is another added touch some might not realize, but it is certainly worthy mentioning. The 500 has never been particularly hard to get, but the plethora of monochromatic colorways have all sold out with relative ease every single time. That doesn’t mean they resell for super high prices though. All are good options if you want to score a Yeezy for a more reasonable price in comparison to some of its counterparts. – Mike DeStefano
7. Louis Vuitton Don
Before Virgik Abloh’s historic appointment as artistic director of Louis Vuitton Menswear in 2018, there was West’s footwear collection with the storied French fashion house in 2009. The collaboration was certainly a precursor of West’s trajectory in the years that followed as he became increasingly interested in fashion design space moving forward. The red low-top was arguably the most sought after of the five colorways that released, but these days its impressive to see any pair of this luxury sneaker laced up on the streets. This sneaker also produced one of the greatest Kanye West moments ever. – Mike DeStefano
6. Nike Air Yeezy I
This is the sneaker that started it all. The shoe, created in tandem with Nike designer Mark Smith, and referenced some of West’s favourite sneakers, including the Air Jordan III, which he used to draw in class during elementary school. The sneaker released in three different colorways, which would become the base for not only his second Nike sneakers, but a whole gang of other shoes from Nike and Various brands. The sneakers may have not held up as well as some of his other sneakers, mainly due to their big, bulky design; something that has fallen out of favour over the years. But it encapsulates the early energy and passion that West put into his sneakers. – Matt Welty
5. Adidas Yeezy Boost 350
The Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 might nit be the first Adidas Yeezy model that dropped, but it certainly the shoe that catapulted this relationship into the mainstream. Releasing around the time of West’s The Life of Pablo project, a few fans were lucky enough to secure a free pair for successfully guessing what TLOP stood for on social media. Highlighted by its original “Turtle dove” colourway, an argument can certainly be made that the quick run of 350s is the enigmatic rapper’s best work with the Three stripes. Unfortunately, the model’s massive popularity resulted in a pretty substantial amount of counterfeit pairs to be produced, so if you are in the market for a pair of your own, be weary of the imitators. – Ben felderstein
4. Louis Vuitton Jasper
The moment i thought this was going to be a classic sneaker was when Kid Cudi wore it on the pages of Complex Magazine back in 2009, with the pink sole struck in a cartoonish pile of pink goo. That colorway, with it’s grey suede upper and over-the-top soles, was a sign that Kanye West knew how to catch someone’s attention through footwear design. It also showed that he could get people to drop serious coin on a pair of shoes. These went for $1,140. That might nit seem like a lot on the secondary market today, but a 10 years ago that was unheard of. Many thought West wasn’t making this collaboration for the “sneaker head”. He proved them wrong. he is gone on to a bigger stardom and more mainstream projects, but the Louis Vuitton collaboration still holds a place in the hearts of his true fans. – Matt Welty
3. Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2
The most accessible Kanye West design with Adidas to date is also his important. West’s second sock sneaker with the Three Stripes helped him to fulfill his promise that everyone who wanted Yeezys would eventually get them, thanks to an abundance of colorways and restocks over the years. The 350 v2 made West’s sneaker line become more than just limited product for a select few lucky customers. It made Yeezys mainstream. Collectors might have the over situation and lack of exclusivity the model now holds, but that’s the exact reason why it is positioned so high on this list. – Mike DeStefano
2. Adidas Yeezy Boost 700
There is a strong case for the Adidas Yeezy Boost 700 to be the best Kanye west Sneaker from a design standpoint. It is by far the best of the Adidas designs, although the 350 V2 is more popular. It’s got it all: Layers, materials, a build out of a real silhouette, and an amazing O.G. colorway. The “Wave Runner” 700 is hands don Kanye’s best Adidas sneaker. This sneaker also shifted a change in Kanye’s line’s direction from sock shoes to real sneakers. He could go beyond Boosted Knit runners (although the 700 has encapsulated Boost on the mid sole). He had some depth to his range. The sneaker hit at the right time, too. The “dad shoe” trend was in its early stages, and this shoe was one of the best ones around. A thick mid sole with a ’90s design and help from one of the godfathers of the original dad shoes, Steven Smith. It’s since dropped in a ton of muted, uninspiring colorways, which makes the original Wave Runner version that much more exciting. – Matt Welty
1. Nike Air Yeezy II
Kanye’s swan song with the swoosh remains his best work to date. The snakeskin side panels, hieroglyphic hits, and glow-in-the-dark Air Tech challenge II soles made for a much more wearable silhouette than the Air Yeezy I. The initial “Pure Platinum” and “solar Red” colorways dropped in 2012, just as sneaker culture was really starting to gain more mainstream attention. Let’s be honest though, the “Red October” that would release two years later is the crown jewel. From the time he split the line, ” Yeezys all on your sofa/These the Red Octobers,” on the Yeezy cut “Hold My Liquor,” the hype train ran wild. The release almost didn’t happen either as West was in the process of leaving his Nike deal for greener pastures, which made the the random Nike.com drop in February 2014 that much more monumental. The Air Yeezy II is still the ultimate grail for many collectors, and was the perfect send off to West’s time at Nike. – Mike DeStefano.