How much is Kanye West worth?
The year is 2020 and a once unknown music producer has just declared he will be running for President of the United States. With Billionaire Donald Trump currently occupying this seat, let’s look at just how much Kanye West is worth.
Well, according to an article by Forbes in April of this year, Kanye West is now a billionaire with a net worth rumoured to be around $1.3Billion. This will come as welcome news to Yeezy as Forbes previously suggested he did not have Billionaire status back in 2019.
Kanye retaliated in true Kanye fashion stating that Forbes was disrespectful and had snubbed him of his Billionaire status even after allegedly showing them a receipt of $890 million (I suppose that isn’t quite a billion…right!?).
Well, Yeezus can no longer be denied the title of Billionaire, so we take a deep dive into his career to see how the ex-GAP employee turned collaborator made it happen.
The Early Years
People will remember Kanye West for bursting onto the scene in 2004 with the critically acclaimed album The College Dropout. The album that not only put West on the map in the Hip Hop world but one that also put the fashion industry on notice.
His hit single All Falls Down gave us a first look into West’s obsession with fashion with the lyrics:
Man, I promise, I’m so self-conscious, Thats why you always see me with at least one of my watches,
Rollies and Pashas done drove me crazy, I can’t even pronounce nothing, pass that Ver-say-see
Collaborating with Nigo from BAPE
The triple platinum-selling album opened the door for Kanye West to collaborate on a sneaker with Nigo from A Bathing Ape in 2007. On this collaboration, however, Kanye did not design a personal silhouette as would later with Nike and Adidas, taking over the highly coveted Bapesta model. The sneaker dressed in a colourway that mirrors The College Dropout album artwork. The Dropout Bear was embroidered on the heel and a brown, orange, and cream colourway throughout. The shoe is a certified grail status for all sneakerheads and Kanye fans alike, fetching anywhere from £3-£4,000 in the resale market.
The popularity of the shoe showed the power Kanye West could have in the fashion industry and how his worth could grow, something that both Louis Vuitton & Nike took notice of immediately.
In the years that followed, Kanye may have been quiet in the fashion World, but he was anything but in the music industry.
Focusing on Music
Going back to back triple platinum with The College Dropout and Late Registration in 2004 and 2005, West set his sights on World domination by taking on Hip Hop superstar 50 Cent in a sales battle of their next albums. Kanye would win that battle by outselling 50 by 300,000 records in the first week alone, eventually going double platinum.
West released one more album before his next moves were made in the fashion industry, the critically acclaimed album 808s and heartbreak. The album released in 2008 and rounded off a busy 4 years for Mr West in music, going platinum and the album making it onto the Rolling Stones list of the 40 Most Groundbreaking Albums of All Time. After so many years of dominance and the competition well and truly defeated, Kanye saw the next few years as his opportunity to make moves with fashion and design.
2009, the West Year Ever?
Although the 26th June was declared the #WestDayEver by Ye himself, 2009 was the year that solidified Kanye’s presence within the fashion industry.
The Louis Vuitton Don
West alluded to his love of Louis Vuitton on the song Last Call again from The College Dropout with the lyrics:
“I’m Kan, the Louis Vuitton Don. Bought my mom a purse, now she Louis Vuitton Mom.”
But it wasn’t until 2009 when Kanye would join forces with the premium fashion label. Ye released a brand-new silhouette for the label, dubbed The Louis Vuitton Don’s, releasing in January 2009. The sneakers, dressed in a range of bold colourways from hot pinks to patchwork colourways, were an instant success.
Kanye in Paris
Kanye would make further waves in the industry when he pulled up to Paris Fashion Week with Virgil Abloh and Don C.
The now infamous image of West standing outside the Comme Des Garcons fashion show in his Louis Vuitton sneakers and Goyard bag to me is West unapologetically announcing himself as a fashion icon.
Who would have thought that the man to his right, Virgil Abloh, would later go on to become the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton some 9 years later?
Wondering how much Virgil Abloh is worth? Click here to find out.
The introduction of YEEZY
To put the finishing touches on a year that would further improve Kanye West’s worth as well as establishing himself as an adequate designer within the fashion industry, he decided to join forces with sportswear giant Nike on a collaboration that changed the sneaker game forever.
The Nike Yeezy 1 was a true Kanye West creation. He didn’t just put his name on an existing Nike silhouette. The shoe came in three colourways and was instantly a hit, all three fetching resale values in the thousands today. The Yeezy 1 was a great way for Kanye to finish his year in fashion and gave us a taste of what to expect soon.
As if the above wasn’t enough to show just how serious Ye was about his ventures into fashion, he also interned at Fendi with Virgil Abloh.
So, at the turn of the decade, Kanye had managed to release four platinum-selling albums as well as creating platinum-selling collaborations with the biggest names in the fashion industry. If you can ignore the fact that Kanye famously interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMA’s in 2009, you could say he had a flawless year.
At the end of 2009, Kanye West was worth approximately $25 million. A figure that was to rise over the coming years.
The Next Chapter
As a new decade began, Kanye’s quest for Billionaire status showed no signs of slowing down. Ye would drop multiple critically acclaimed albums following the release of 808s and heartbreak, also releasing a brand-new Nike sneaker that would break the internet.
The greatest Kanye albums of all time?
The two albums that followed 808s and Heartbreak are for me, Kanye’s greatest releases to date. A theory further backed up by the multiple Grammy’s he would win for both albums.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sold 496,000 copies in its first week, eventually reaching double-platinum certification. The collaborative album with Jay Z titled Watch the Throne sold 436,000 copies in its first week, breaking the iTunes first week sales record. The tour that followed the release of Watch the Throne also became the highest-grossing hip hop tour of all time.
Kanye enlisted the help of ex-Givenchy turned Burberry Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci to create the album artwork for Watch the Throne. A subtle nod to show West was still very much interested in fashion.
Nike Air Yeezy 2
The Nike Air Yeezy 2, which would eventually be the final sneaker created between the two, is still one of the most sought-after collaborations to this day.
The Yeezy 2 released in two colourways originally back in 2012, but it was the Red October version that dropped in 2014 that had people taking Kanye’s sneaker ventures seriously.
Unfortunately, the Red October was to be the final sneaker we would see Ye release under the Nike banner. A shoe that today fetches a fee of around £6,000 – £7,000 on the resale marketplace.
By the end of 2014 West had released multiple albums, multiple sneakers with Nike and had begun his relationship with fashion icon Kim Kardashian. It would be the joining of forces between Adidas and Kanye however that would see his net worth boom.
“Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman”
The collaboration between West and Adidas was special from the beginning with Adidas giving Ye full creative control as well as allowing him to keep 100% of the YEEZY brand.
Kanye has since created and released many silhouettes of his YEEZY x Adidas sneakers, starting with the YEEZY 350. I dive my favourite silhouettes below:
YEEZY 350 & 350v2
The YEEZY 350 has been Ye’s biggest release to date. Boasting a massive 51 different colourways since the original turtle dove released back in 2015.
It is impossible to get actual figures of how many YEEZY 350’s have been sold as the amount produced is somewhat unknown, but I think it is fair to say that the creation and hype surrounding this shoe is a huge factor in West’s journey to a billion.
Looking to pick up a pair of YEEZY 350s? Click here to purchase
The 380 is the latest YEEZY sneaker to be released with the first pair dropping back in December 2019. With only two colourways releasing so far but many more rumoured for release, the silhouette is already highly sought after by sneakerheads and Kanye fans alike.
Shop the YEEZY 380 by clicking here
The YEEZY 500 was released in mostly neutral colours whilst sporting an extremely chunky sole. The shoe took inspiration from the YEEZY boots that had released previously but were given a sleeker design to make them a more everyday sneaker.
YEEZY 700, 700v2 & 700v3
The YEEZY 700 is Ye’s nod towards the dad shoe trend. It has been reimagined and recreated more than any other YEEZY silhouette, with three versions in total. The core design of the shoe has remained pretty much the same, however, the upper has varied with each shoe with the v3 even featuring webbing across it.
Overall, there have been 19 colourways of the 700.
Looking to purchase the YEEZY 500? Click here
The YEEZY 700 more what you are looking for? purchase by clicking here
YZY x GAP
The final piece of the puzzle for Kanye West was to join forces with his ex-employer, clothing and accessories retailer GAP.
West dreamed of collaborating with GAP for some time. This dream has finally come true. A ten-year contract no less.
“Let’s go back, back to the GAP”
Kanye worked at GAP as a teenager, a job he confirmed on the track ‘Spaceship’ with the lyrics ‘Let’s go back, back to the GAP’.
A collaboration between the two has long been rumoured but never really came into fruition until now. The YEEZY x GAP line will feature everyday essentials at affordable prices for men, women and children
GAP believe the venture with Kanye West’s YEEZY could see the struggling company generate $1 Billion in annual sales. Since the announcement GAP stock has risen 42%, so the $1 Billion target doesn’t look like too much of a pipe dream right now.
April 2020, Confirmed Billionaire
As of April, of this year, Kanye West is officially worth a billion. His net worth listed as $1.3 Billion to be specific. Despite West’s dominance in the charts with his music, it is his efforts in fashion with the YEEZY label that has seen him become a part of the three-comma-club.
So, what is next for Kanye West you ask, will he stay dominating the sneaker industry? will he go back to his first love music? or will he become the 2nd Billionaire President in America’s history? Only time will tell.