Kayla Marci

August 24, 2021

Donda: Kanye’s latest take on streetwear trends

The streetwear trends powering Kanye West’s elusive new era and how retailers can harness the hype.

In a series of productions described as "light years ahead of its time," Kanye West continues to distort boundaries in music and fashion. With an upcoming, twice-postponed album dedicated to his late mother, it's sent the internet ablaze before it's even been released.

This report will look at West's influence in retail and the trends to invest in, upheld by the next phase of the controversial artist's career.

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Ye's impact on fashion

Demand for Yeezy's spikes 347%

The album's delay has led to triple-digit growth for West's Yeezy brand as anticipation builds from the listening events. Despite West's allegiance to adidas, product placement for competitor Nike is also woven throughout - the Swoosh logo was prominently featured on Sha'Carri Richardson in a Beats commercial for 'Donda.'

Gap's future is tied to him

The multi-year partnership with Yeezy amassed $34.9 mn in media impact value for Gap since the collaboration announcement in June 2020. The label is banking on West's influence to revitalize its brand and expects revenue from the joint collection to top $150 mn in 2022.

Kim remains influenced

Family is the underpinning theme of the new album, demonstrated by Kim Kardashian who has continued to show up for her ex despite their public divorce, attending the listening events dressed on brand and kids in tow. Her ongoing support for the father of her children will continue to be reflected in her sartorial choices, connecting her global fanbase with the 'Donda' era.

'Donda' merch makes history

Revenue from 'Donda' products, which Balenciaga's Demna Gvasalia designed, raked in $7 mn. This broke the record for the highest-grossing US tour, made solely from merchandise sales. The second listening event was also Apple Music's most-watched livestream ever.

streetwear trends

Images via Hypebeast and Instagram - Kim Kardashian

The colors to back

Traditionally, minimalism and neutrals are synonymous with West and the Yeezy brand. While earthy hues crop up in the merch, the 'Donda' era introduces themes of urban warfare, creating a darker color palette with primary color pops from the Yeezy x Gap puffer jackets. This moody color scheme is also complimentary of utilitarian and grunge themes spotted on the Spring 2022 runways at Rick Owens, Undercover and Études, as well as at streetwear brands NEIGHBORHOOD and VTMTS.

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Images via Instagram - VTMNTS; Instagram - Rick Owens; IMAXtree - Études Spring 2022; Instagram - Thronton Drury 

The puffer jacket

A streetwear staple that will remain the hero of outerwear assortments, West's global influence has propelled the puffer jacket to new heights. Following the hotly-anticipated drop of the Yeezy x Gap jackets, which were available for pre-order, worldwide investment and sell out activity has skyrocketed.

Though this is the usual time of year retailers' land the bulk of new puffers, they're betting big on it - arrivals since the start of the year are up 56% YoY and 34% vs. 2019. Consumers are responding strongly, even ahead of winter setting it. The number of styles selling out of majority SKUs without a discount has outpaced 2020 by 103% and 2019 by 153%.

streetwear trends

The post-apocalyptic aesthetic

After several seasons of pandemic-induced Dopamine Dressing, this darker theme mirrors the bleak but accurate depiction of the current state of the world through streetwear. West teamed up with Gvasalia to beef up Gorpcore with a spiked jacket, combat boots and simplified versions of Ye's signature face coverings.

Technical vests

Slotting into the aforementioned post-world theme, West took to the stage in a 'Donda'-emblazoned bullet-proof vest, also seen on Migos and Vic Mensa. Though a hyper-directional trend, the silhouette and technical details can be reimagined to play into the burgeoning outdoor apparel market.

Shield and wraparound sunglasses

West's penchant for Rick Owens' oversized lenses will carry through to his 'Donda' period. In attendance, Kim and Khloé Kardashian wore mirrored glasses, while other show goers were papped in futuristic wraparound frames. This trend is runway-approved, with sporty shades cropping up at recent shows for both men and womenswear.

streetwear trends

Images via Yeezy and Instagram - Khloé Kardashian

Bondage dressing

Kim Kardashian matched West's enigmatic stage presence dressed by Balenciaga in a skin-tight outfit paired with a balaclava and over-the-knee boots. An offshoot of the sexy dressing trend, kink influences have infiltrated the mass market through catsuits and the more commercial corset.

Religious iconography

From Wacko Maria to Fear of God, religion is frequently referenced within streetwear. A lifelong influence on West's music, elements of faith are printed on merchandise carrying over from his Sunday Service Choir. The sold out 'Donda' products featured a cross and the Star of David across T-shirts retailing for $120 and are now being resold at inflated prices.

Gothic lettering

One of the favored typefaces within streetwear as seen on Palace, Huf, MISBHV and more, West uses it throughout 'Donda' promotions on gold Cuban chains spelling out his four kids' names. The font also appears on West's sweatpants in a not-yet-deleted Instagram, poising itself for commercial uptake within loungewear trends.

streetwear trends

Images via Instagram - Kim Kardashian & Kanye West

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