Keep it G – Don't Wear No 350s 'round Me
‘We’re evolving at warp speed’, Kanye West tells us in Break the Simulation, a book of freeform philosophy hammered out on Twitter. ‘We are on the frontier of massive change. Starting from breaking out of our mental prisons.’
For Kanye West, the simulation is the composition of inherited ideas we have about the world.
But just what kind of simulation has Yeezy given birth to?
If the simulation is a set of preconceived notions blinding us from the true nature of an object, then the adidas Yeezy BOOST 350 is the ultimate hoodwink, a sneaker only truly given relevance by earth’s adulation of Kanye West – not by the nature of the design itself.
It’s time to break out of our prisons. It’s time to break the 350 simulation.
The Origins of Simulation
Riding the meteoric levels of hype generated by the Yeezy BOOST 750, the 350 hit the market in 2015, the ‘Pirate Black’, ‘Moonrock’, and ‘Oxford Tan’ colourways all delivered in quick succession. Bolstered by Sneaker of the Year awards, Kanye West dropped ‘Facts’, a monolithic middle finger to his previous dealings with Nike.
Kanye sent Swoosh furore straight into the sneaker psychosphere, with a ‘Fuck Nike’ chant eventually erupting at Madison Square Garden during the debut of The Life of Pablo.
But it wasn’t until Kanye rolled out Yeezy season 6 that the simulation really began to take shape. The existentially-rupturing, incalculable proportions of Kim Kardashian sent out alongside a host of Instagram models imitating Paris Hilton. Season 6 became the perfect manifestation of the Yeezy simulation – existing both digitally and physically; real and unreal. Is this what Morpheus meant by Desert of the Real? A horrifying, real-life apparition of an Instagram feed?
Even more unnerving than season 6 was a silhouette that looks more like a sordid motel ‘foot sponge’ pitched to Shark Tank investors by SoCal meth enthusiasts – the Yeezy BOOST 350. Yes, this thing has picked up all kinds of disturbing colourways since its debut in 2015. After the season 6 campaign, the Yeezy brand proceeded to drop an eye-watering amount of 350 V2s. In 2019, more than a dozen colourways have already been announced (four colourways are scheduled for September alone).
How can we justify the 350 beyond some kind of collective cognitive deformity? ‘Synth’, ‘Citron’, ‘Clay’ – these colourways resemble the morose, muted colour palettes of Germany’s East Bloc, not James Turrell’s reformative light therapy.
Is the Yeezy BOOST 350 offering aesthetic cues to the internal political machinations of Kanye West? Is that what the MAGA hat was about? The Dragon energy? Is the Yeezy brand surreptitiously ushering in a Soviet palette for the American conscience?
Geopolitical intrigue or not, the adidas Yeezy BOOST 350 is causing more damage to retinas than staring at a solar eclipse.
In 2019, this optical atrophy is supersonic.
Kayne’s pledge to ‘make sure everyone gets Yeezys’ is coming to fruition. The simulation is working. What was once marketed as an exclusive product now belongs to Yeezy’s relentless production cycle churning out 350s from Calabasas (earlier this year, adidas CEO Kasper Rørsted confirmed ‘more than 20’ Yeezy releases scheduled for this year).
This week, we had our first look at the Yeezy BOOST 350 V3 ‘Alien’, and the internet quaked.
But if the BOOST V3 is evolution at ‘warp speed’, then what on earth is Yeezy’s evolution at its slow, metronomic, Darwinian pace?
Kanye West dubbed it a unicorn, the Yeezy brand recently projected to exceed over $1.5 billion in sales this year. But have Yeezy become more of a sick horse? Repeatedly flogged and beaten by the spiralling horns that made the brand unique in the first place?
Again, to quote Kanye West’s Break the Simulation: ‘We are all trained actors’ ... perhaps even the horses.