Five epic facts about Kanye West's Yeezy empire

11 July 2019 - 06:07 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Kanye West has made some power moves.
Kanye West has made some power moves.
Image: Randy Holmes/ Getty Images

Kanye West's sneaker empire is a billion-dollar enterprise, according to a new cover story by Forbes magazine.

Revenue for the Yeezy sneaker line, now with Adidas, is set to top $1.5bn (R21bn) in 2019. West's pre-tax income over the past 12 months came in at $150m (R2bn), according to Forbes.

From the first shoe he sketched to his inspiration, here are five cool facts about the Yeezy empire.

Jordan One

The first pair of sneakers West sketched was the Jordan One. His love of design dates back as far as his passion for music.

"God does have a way of lining things up," he said

Early supporter

Thanks to his musical fame, West was able to create shoes for a Japanese apparel company, A Bathing Ape, in 2007. It was during this time that he met many people in the fashion industry, including Hedi Slimane, who encouraged him to continue designing kicks.

According to West, the creative director said to him: "You're going to do something really strong in shoes."

Sketches on a plane

West said he felt confident enough to show Nike CEO Mark Parker his notepad when he sat next to him on a plane.

"When he saw my sketch, he said: 'This guy's interesting, let's do a shoe with him'."

Lamborghini inspiration

West recalled becoming obsessed with the Lamborghini Countach after visiting car shows with his dad as a kid. 

"There's a little bit of Lamborghini in everything I do.

"Yeezy is the Lamborghini of shoes," he said.


West left Nike when it wouldn't let him keep royalties. After the Yeezy II release, things really boomed for the brand.

"It was the first shoe to have the same level of impact as an Air Jordan and I wanted to do more," said West. " At that time Nike refused to give celebrities royalties on their shoes."