When the world’s biggest fashion brand goes from being a little-known name to a brand in the vanguard of the fashion industry
When the fashion brand that inspired Kanye West’s Yeezy line of sneakers went mainstream, its sales soared to the point where it became the most valuable brand in North America.
But in 2017, that was only half the story.
This story begins in 2006, when Kanye West was just a kid growing up in the Bronx and working in a construction company.
He started working at Nike as a kid, but by the time he was 15 he was already making enough money to buy a car and a house in the South Bronx.
That car, a 1998 Nissan Versa, is one of the most famous cars in the world.
But it also had a problem: Its engine was a bit too small.
Kanye was in a bind.
When he started working there, the company was in the midst of building a new production line.
As it was, Kanye was trying to find ways to make more money.
It was an ambitious project, but it also offered him the chance to make a big impact on the fashion world.
“The way I started, Nike really put me on the map.
I was the first kid in my family to have an opportunity to buy Nike products,” he says.
“I was able to be part of the Nike family for a little while, and I really got to know them.”
For Kanye, that meant working with the legendary architect Norman Foster, who had designed the brand’s iconic “Yeezy” shoes.
Foster would later go on to design the company’s iconic sports uniforms, the Air Yeezer and the Air Jordan.
As Nike went on to become one of fashion’s biggest brands, it became increasingly clear that the brand could be something special, even if it wasn’t always as big as Nike was.
“They did an amazing job of bringing the brand to the masses,” says Brandi Chastain, who co-stars on the show, “The Real World.”
“It’s like a big-name company, but Nike is a kid’s dream.”
Kanye’s love of Nike started early.
When Kanye was a kid he’d buy a pair of Nike Air Yeezys and dress them up in Adidas-inspired sneakers.
“It was an early Nike, which was kind of a cool thing to do,” he recalls.
“A kid who was just playing with his dad’s shoes and a pair on his feet was always kind of fascinated by how Nike was made.”
But it was not until his senior year of high school that Kanye’s interest in sneakers really took off.
“He’d start out wearing Adidas sneakers, and then eventually he’d start wearing Nike,” says Chastanes.
“That was his first big step, but I think it really took hold of him when he was a sophomore.”
While Kanye’s Nike obsession grew, the brand had its own troubles.
The shoes were made in China, and there was an ongoing crackdown on labor rights and labor practices in the country.
That prompted Nike to launch a boycott of Adidas, calling the company “a business that has no business being in the US.”
As Nike faced growing pressure from other companies to drop its manufacturing in China and to shift its manufacturing to more environmentally friendly countries, it had to deal with other issues as well.
“Nike was a little bit on the edge,” Chastains says.
For instance, Nike had been criticized for not paying workers enough.
“If Nike was to go down in history as a business that did not pay its workers fairly, that would really hurt Nike,” she says.
But Nike’s decision to focus on sustainable production led to Nike winning the prestigious “Designer of the Year” award in 2013.
Nike was finally making money from its shoe brand, and it was making that money quickly.
The brand also became one of only two or three companies that could afford to produce Nike’s iconic Air YEEZYs in a mass production way.
That made the brand attractive to designers, who would then produce Nike-branded shoes for other brands.
Nike, along with other companies like Nike Air Max, was one of several major retailers that started manufacturing sneakers for Nike in 2014.
The company’s initial line of Air Yezy sneakers is one that Kanye would wear for the first time when he visited the brand in 2013, wearing a pair in the iconic blue and yellow colorway.
“There was an amazing moment when I walked in and I felt like I was standing next to the people who were making the shoes, and Kanye was just wearing it, wearing it on stage,” says Kim Kardashian, who was at the time dating Kanye.
“His whole persona, he had this energy and charisma, but also he was just so passionate about the shoes.
He was just like, ‘Oh, I love these shoes.'”
The shoes inspired the star of the show to make another pair of shoes inspired by the brand, this time for Kanye.
Kanye wore these shoes for the show