Few celebrity figures are nearly as controversial within the fashion world (not to mention the celeb sphere as a whole) as Kanye West is. While the rapper has a practically Internet-breaking Vogue cover under his belt and several infamous designer shoutouts in the lyrics of his music, his previous attempts to try his hand as a designer have not been particularly well received amongst fashion critics. His newest attempt, Kanye West x Adidas Originals, which showed last Thursday at New York Fashion Week, has been a bit of a different story. Love him or hate him, the fashion world’s response to his collection for Adidas is showing that the industry just might be starting to warm up to Kanye—and for a few good reasons!
ICYMI, Kanye recently opened up to Style.com about the vision behind Kanye West x Adidas—and it turns out, it’s something we can all get behind. Coming down from designing two super-luxe collections in 2012 that showed at Paris Fashion Week on the same day as Chanel and Valentino, it seems West’s vision this time was a lot more realistic. The clothes were simple, neutral, and had a casual athleisure look with military-inspired touches via camouflage jackets—in other words, way more down-to-earth than we’re used to seeing from Kanye. Instead of trying to aim for a high-end luxury market, Kanye told Style.com that, this time around, he focused on bringing well-designed clothing to as many people as possible, even going as far to accuse high fashion of being elitist. Chic, fashion-forward clothes available to those of us that can’t afford to splurge on this season’s Saint Laurent booties? We’re definitely okay with that.
Another major part of the Kanye West x Adidas presentation? The casting featured a much more realistic range of body types than your average NYFW catwalk. While the fashion industry has consistently been under fire for failing to feature a diverse enough range of models on the runway as well as in advertisements and editorials, the Kanye West x Adidas show was a different story, featuring both men and women of different heights, body types and ethnicities, reinforcing West’s vision that fashion should be made available to everyone.
While Kanye has found plenty of supporters, it’s appearing not everyone is a fan. PR icon Kelly Cutrone spoke out against the collection to People, making the point that, despite the fact that Kanye is a talented rapper and well-known public figure, it doesn’t automatically qualify him to be a fashion designer. "I think he's fine as a rapper," she said, adding, "I think he's a joke as a fashion designer." This is a point that many in the industry have brought up already, as fashion has seen a recent flood of celebrity design collaborations and lines. While I can definitely see the truth in this, I think it’s important to note that just because Kanye is already a rapper doesn’t automatically make him a bad designer. Just look at the Olsen twins—they're the perfect example of celebrities who also happen to be highly respected designers for their work at The Row.
Ultimately, no matter what your feelings are about Kanye, the collection itself or celebrities-turned-fashion-designers as a whole, what matters about Kanye West x Adidas Originals is that it has opened the door to the creation of clothing that accessible to the masses, but still has the same design integrity as high end pieces. The inclusive nature of the collection and the way it was presented—using a much more diverse runway—is something we can all get behind.
As for what's in Kanye's future? He says he has dreams of taking the lead role at Gap—where he once interned.
"One of my dreams was to be the head creative director of Gap," he said. "I'd like to be the Steve Jobs of Gap. Perhaps this is a bit of a demo tape. When I say Steve Jobs of Gap, I'm not talking about a capsule. I'm talking about full Hedi Slimane creative control of Gap is what I would like to do," he admitted in his Style.com interview.
What did you think of Kanye’s line for Adidas, collegiettes? Has Kanye proven himself as a fashion force?