What’s the deal with the rumoured Yeezy Basketball line?
We learned a lot from the highly publicised recent Kanye West interview in Forbes magazine. Perhaps most notably, we were able to gain access to a wide array of prototypes from within Yeezy’s Calabasas Headquarters. Among these, many were able to spot several colourways for the long teased Yeezy Basketball line. Very little is known for certain about Wests arrival into the court shoe world. All we do know is from what we have gleamed by looking at what we have seen on his or his wife’s feet. With no information about a release confirmed, but with a growing hype surrounding their eventual emergence, it has got me thinking: Is the Yeezy Basketball line going to be good for court culture?
The current state of court shoe culture
The basketball world has long been dominated by Nike. Where Adidas has taken over the lifestyle sector of the industry with the rise of Boost technology, Nike have been able to maintain a vice like grip on court culture. Primarily due to the work done by their subsidiary Air Jordan. As well as a seemingly ever growing stable of signature athletes representing Nike on and off the court.
Traditionally, basketball signature shoes are reserved almost solely for athletes. While artists, entertainers, and other personalities exist in much more of a street wear setting. For example NBA superstars like Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James all have signature Nike court shoes. While street wear is reserved more for collaborative efforts between brands or designers such as Virgil Abloh’s Off-White x Nike and Kanye West’s Yeezy x Adidas link ups, to name two big examples.
Yeezy expanding onto the court
What Kanye West wants to do, is bridge the gap, and expand his Yeezy portfolio into new territories. Which some people think, is actually going to be very good for the market. Jon Wexler, Adidas’ Vice President of Global Entertainment & Influencer Marketing was recently speaking at ComplexCon Chicago and he had some very positive things to say about the upcoming Yeezy Basketball line.
“He’s just such a master story teller that people are kinda like waiting for that next move, because they want to move how he’s moving,” said Wexler. “So if he moves into basketball, that’s going to actually help the entire category. That won’t just lift our basketball category, but the whole industry.”
PJ Tucker was alongside Wexler on the panel, who himself is a Nike Basketball Athlete and widely regarded as the NBA’s “Sneaker King” also feels any move by Kanye West into the Basketball world would prove incredibly significant. Stating, “There is no if in that,” said Tucker. “Nick Young played in the ones that weren’t even basketball shoes. So now it’s an actual basketball shoe? Come on now!”
What could this mean for Yeezys competitors?
I think it is obvious that whatever Kanye West puts his name to is going to be popular. Whether or not that is enough to dig out the deep roots Nike and Air Jordan have in the scene is another thing entirely. The recent Forbes interview with Ye reported that Air Jordan does $3 Billion in annual sales. Yeezy currently does half of that at $1.5 Billion. Which makes you wonder: would the Yeezy Basketball line help to elevate Kanye’s brand so the line “Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman” could finally come true.
No one really knows for certain the impact the Yeezy Quantum Basketball is going to have. Many have tried to establish themselves in the court world. Jerry Lorenzo for example has recently, with his Nike Air Fear of God range, tried to crack the market. Notably being worn by the previously mentioned PJ Tucker on the court. Yet like so many other great designs, their moment in the lime light is short lived. The main reason for this is that the NBA and therefore court culture is incredibly stylised, personalised and personality driven. NBA players want to make a statement on the court, and that is why I think a Yeezy Basketball line will take off, because when it comes to style Yeezy is top of the game.
Potential road blocks for the Yeezy Basketball?
There has been some suggestion that the Yeezy Basketall Quantum won’t even make it to the NBA. With many highlighting that on the face of it, the shoe is in clear and obvious violation of the NBA Official footwear policy: “shoes containing flashing lights or similar types of adornments (e,g., metallic or reflective) are not considered appropriate basketball footwear.” Meaning the significant amount of reflective material on the Yeezys would presumably disqualify them from on-court eligibility.
Whether or not you can ban a shoe that hasn’t yet even hit shelves is something I’d definitely question. This wouldn’t be the first time however, that the NBA has attempted to ban some footwear that would prove incredibly popular in the long run. Perhaps history will repeat itself and the ban would only add to the lore surrounding it. Only time will tell but I for one am definitely ready to see how the Yeezy Basketball line does.
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