Kanye West had a simple, two-word announcement to his nearly 28 million Twitter followers Friday regarding his Adidas Yeezy sneaker brand: "adding basketball."
adding basketball pic.twitter.com/S61SkXdY7A— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) July 27, 2018
West's news that the first Yeezy basketball shoe will launch in 2019 was accompanied by a loose silhouette sketch of several other upcoming Yeezy shoe designs.
The Yeezy line has primarily focused on making lifestyle sneakers. The entry into basketball will mark a shift for the brand as it begins to create performance models that have also been fully wear-tested and developed with technology in mind, according to brand sources.
Last summer, West wore an early sample of the first Yeezy basketball shoe during an impromptu pickup game at UCLA, featuring a taller knit collar height and a full-length Boost midsole design similar to his popular Yeezy 350 casual shoe. In April, West also tweeted out an early look at another basketball concept design, which was highlighted by a more dramatic black heel panel and a wavy, layered upper through the toe.
While West has been working on basketball designs for nearly two years, it wasn't until recently that he signed off on the basketball shoe that will launch in 2019. The price point is expected to be more than $225, according to industry sources.
For now, Adidas plans to launch a variety of new Yeezy silhouettes in 2019 and is locked in on a long-term deal with West that goes far beyond a standard endorsement deal.
The basketball sneaker space is going through a resurgence in competition, with Puma re-entering the marketplace this fall, and brands such as AND1 and New Balance setting their sights on NBA partnerships again.
While Under Armour has enjoyed success with Stephen Curry's signature series, the industry has long been dominated by Nike and its Jordan Brand subsidiary, which has nearly 90 percent of the basketball footwear market over the past decade.
After collaborating with Nike on two massively hyped Air Yeezy signature sneakers in 2009 and 2012, West switched brands and signed with Adidas in the fall of 2013. Most of the $200-and-up Yeezy sneakers resell afterward for two to three times their initial price.
Having his own performance signature basketball shoe worn by NBA players would be unprecedented for a non-athlete entertainer. West has stated that he prefers to be known as a "performance athlete." He even famously claimed to have lobbied Nike CEO Mark Parker for a sneaker line that expanded beyond just lifestyle models, pleading, "I go to the Garden and play one-on-no one!"
Looking even further ahead, the 2020 NBA All-Star Game is slated to be held in West's hometown of Chicago, potentially setting up a series of brand wars with his old nemesis in Nike and Michael Jordan, whose Jordan Brand most recently designed and made the 2018 All-Star Game's uniforms.