What’s most interesting about Kanye West’s Adidas Originals collaboration isn’t the clothes

Kanye West Adidas Originals
Photography by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for adidas

Where Kim, Kanye and the rest of the brood are concerned, the impossible is always possible. Since they became such a permanently polarizing part of our cultural psyche, we’ve seen so many, let’s call them miracles, that reiterating them here just seems exhausting—a sex tape turned career, a marriage turned Vogue cover, an Instagram following turned Estée Lauder contract, and the list goes on. Last night, we saw a rapper turn designer, or so the critics would like you to believe.

Kanye West kicked off New York Fashion Week, debuting his collection for Adidas Originals to a star-studded front row including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Such high-profile support is to be expected; after all, the designer himself is one of the biggest stars of the moment and that’s his crew. But what I didn’t expect was such a unanimously highbrow response from the fashion critics.

“The mix of savagery and sweetness in West’s recent musical output means it’s tempting to assume there is some kind of internal conflict raging in him. That would certainly account for his provocative public persona. It was that suggestion of conflict that gave some spine to this collaboration with Adidas: a protective toughness, a body-conscious severity that made the clothes more than a simple accessory to the footwear that was the predictable focus of the whole event,” offered up Tim Blanks on style.com. Protective toughness, huh. What romantic words for camo jackets and nude onesies designed by the guy who launched a million LOLs by almost bum-rushing the stage at the Grammys yet again last weekend.

“It all created a sense that Kanye is outfitting some kind of ground force for the muted and dusty-hued future: The color palette is reminiscent of military uniforms past and present, while the nylon MA-2 bombers were presented on buzz-cut models, men and women, wearing brand new Adidas commando boots. With Kanye, anything is possible, and it was only 20 months ago that he released Yeezus, an album of similar provocation. All of this may be made moot when people pick and choose individual pieces, but on display, in rigid lines of expressionless youth, it was at the very least satisfyingly instigative for a line of sportswear,” said Vogue.com.

It seems that fashion’s pearly gates are opening wide for all things Kanye, with his heavy-handed styling of wife Kim helping the couple ascend the ranks to super style stardom. What’s most interesting about Kanye’s Adidas debut isn’t how on point or wearable the clothes are (and they are wearable, give or take a few layers), but it’s how the critics are responding to what is essentially another celeb collaboration with a sportswear brand. Endorsements and collaborations happen so often, and have with Adidas recently with such greats as Mary Katrantzou, Rita Ora and Stella McCartney.

But Kanye, well, Kanye. That’s a horse of a different colour.

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