Is Kanye West truly a ground-breaking designer or is he just a famous celebrity playing dress-up with human dolls because he can afford it? To support or not to support Yeezy, that is the question.
Kanye West is the anti-fashion of fashion
Ye’s said it before and he’ll probably say it again. He’s anti-fashion. He doesn’t belong in the industry and he doesn’t want to belong.
Kanye West spent years working on his fashion line, and by the time he finally achieved success and respect from the fashion world and began being invited to Fashion Weeks as the industry grew expectant of what he was going to come up with next, he refused to attend. For his sixth launch, Kanye used Instagram to drop his campaign, specifically Kim Kardashian’s account. Needless to say, the exposure the line got was astounding, the success of the campaign beyond anything he had experienced before. The goal of these actions? Sending a message to the industry: I don’t need you, I don’t belong with you.
But for someone who doesn’t want to belong, he definitely has a knack for playing the game within the industry… So are we all being fooled into thinking he’s truly doing all of this for the sake of art and that his creations are as raw and honest as fashion gets, or is he genuinely dedicated to exploring the limits of contemporary fashion?
Good art makes an impact, and Yeezy is hard to miss
Memorable art pieces, regardless of the form in which they are presented to the world, be that visual, sonic, gustatory, olfactory or tactile, are those that generate an impact. That impact stays with us and leaves a dent, an imprint on who we are as human beings that changes us ever so slightly. Great art has influence and sways the mind of whoever is exposed to it. Still, art in all its forms can be so subjective that we sometimes can’t tell if someone is an absolute genius creative mind or the most astute impostor.
One can’t deny that Yeezy as a brand is hard to overlook. Its designs are often striking and characteristic. They cause a reaction. Yeezys look markedly futuristic at first glance. Yet they also embody a certain prehistoric solidity, there’s something ancient and stoneheng-y about them that is hard to explain. Ye’s creations can cause rigid minds to discombobulate, an ambush of confusion and incomprehension in its rawest of forms.
Making an impact is not the same as making a good product
Many might criticize the fact that sure, Ye’s fashion line looks impactful, but that doesn’t mean it’s an actual good product… Right?
The thing is guys, it’s not just another otherworldly product that can’t be worn. Yeezys are actually very comfortable, and durable. All in all, they are a good product.
Kanye’s polarizing nature works in his favour
Society loves to love, but it also loves to hate and hates to love. Sometimes it even hates to hate. The best stories have villains you love to hate, or anti-heroes you hate to love. We love being polarized and challenged, having a feeling to hold onto firmly. Something to stan. Kanye West does just that. You love him, or you hate him, but few are indifferent to him. His fashion designs follow suit and are characterized precisely for being utterly adored or completely rejected. He has the fashion industry divided. On one side we have those who believe he is a fashion genius, ushering the industry into its new era. On the other, we have those who think he’s completely delusional and is only successful due to his celebrity status. So what is it?
No one can deny that most of what Kanye does is polarizing. As his career has evolved so has his knack for polarizing everything he touches. Still, is this inherent to his talent as a fashion designer, or simply a brilliant marketing strategy?
All will be forgotten once Kanye is forgotten
Some might criticize the fact that Kanye’s designs are only relevant right now due to his fame. Many believe his fashion career will not stand the test of time since it’s only a matter of time before the figurehead and reason for the brand’s popularity fades away as a pop-culture figure, thus plunging the alien-like clothing line into oblivion. This undermines the present impact that Yeezys have. Sure they make an impact, but is it long-lasting and transformative or is it simply all about shock value?
Would Kanye West have made it as a designer if he wasn’t famous?
Would we take any of these designs seriously if anyone else designed them? Or is it simply because it’s Kanye West, a notorious celebrity? Celebrity culture has translated into celebrities infiltrating every aspect of society. But believing you can do something and being able to do it are two different things… Actors become politicians, singers become representatives of human rights campaigns, and TikTok influencers become newscasters. Kanye himself briefly decided he was going to run for president. Some people believe they can do it all, and the public encourages it because they consume the artist rather than the art.
Perhaps this is why when famous artists decide to take on a different art form they can be judged so harshly. But can you really blame the audience for doubting a celebrity’s motifs? How much of a new venture is just a novel money-making scheme aimed at inflating the already oversized celebrity’s ego, and how much is it a new outlet for creative expression worth every second of our time? And who says these two possibilities are mutually exclusive?
We could try and analyze Ye’s fashion career purely from its value and contributions to the fashion industry. Although is it even possible to separate Kanye’s trajectory from his celebrity persona? Would Kanye have gotten where he is in the fashion industry without being as famous as he was? Probably not. Does this mean his work isn’t valid and he shouldn’t be considered a real designer? Also probably not.
Kanye West: the delusional genius
Eras in art tend to be defined by a movement, dadaism or minimalism for example. Early 2000s mainstream culture was characterized by a certain accommodating homogenous nature. Kanye broke all of those moulds, and rules with his polarizing, clashing artistry. This was but a sign that he was ahead of his time because surely enough, present-day mainstream culture is all about breaking the mould, the rules, and causing discomfort. Being different. Leaving no one indifferent.
People aren’t indifferent to Kanye West. It’s not a matter of whether you like his style or not. That’s not where the debate’s at. The debate literally is either Kanye West is a delusional demagogue and his fans the dimmest of sheep for eating up what he serves, or he is the greatest fashion designer of our time. Somehow Ye has managed to be both at the same time.