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Yeezys Are the Most Influential Sneakers of 2016

Between celebs wearing them and the shoes "inspired" by their design, they're the shoes everyone still wants.

"Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy I feel so accomplished" Kanye West raps on "Facts," the sneaker-centered track he dropped this past New Years Eve. The song, which includes numerous attacks on his onetime collaborators at Nike, is one big boast track for the success of his Adidas-backed Yeezy Boost line of shoes. And while it's got all the bombast for which West is known, as it turns out, the rapper's claims have merit. Because no one can deny that in 2016, his sneakers are the gold standard for hyped-up, gone-in-a-flash footwear. They're not yet the mass market utilitarian shoe West wishes they were, but he's right when he claims the Yeezy Boost is special. Actually, it's the most influential shoe of the year in terms of style and design.

From celebs in the Kardashian-West circle to artists like Justin Bieber, celebrity royalty like Brooklyn Beckham, and even foreign soccer superstars like Real Madrid's Karim Benzema have made the Yeezy Boost sneaker one of the most covetable items in the world and a tell tale sign of ones cool-guy (or gal) status. For some who prefer more low-key style swerves, Yeezys have actually become a scarlet letter of trend-chasing, but for most, they're a grail-level piece that lives up to its hype thanks to its insanely cozy proprietary Primeknit upper, proprietary Boost sole, heel tab, and of course, association to Yeezus himself. Hell, even the infant versions of the sneakers sold out on Adidas's site in mere seconds this past weekend. (There are about to be a lot of lil' hypebeasts around the world.)

Because Yeezys are so difficult to get, other labels have seemingly utilized the shoe's popular aesthetic for a mass audience. And while knockoffs will always be an issue for covetable kicks much like handbags, what's new is the legitimate business that have taken design cues from the 350. Smaller independent brands like Allbirds seem to have loosely based their runner style on the Yeezy and sold it for $95, creating a shoe with a knit upper, hiking-inspired round laces, and the overall shape of the limited West-designed style. Most conspicuously of these "Yeezy inspired" kicks is Steve Madden's "Baldwin" sneaker, which we think you only have to look at once to note its obvious inspirations. (Steve Madden declined to comment about the specific shoe.)

Just as telling—if unprecedented—is how even big time athletic brands are moving towards Yeezy-like sneaker silhouettes. Under Armour, itself a competitor to Adidas,
released a shoe called the "Moda Run" (seen above) that's reminiscent of the Yeezy Boost 350's streamlined design. If that's not an indicator of market demand shifting towards a particular type of something, we don't know what is (with or without West's name attached to it). It should be noted that when the 350s first debuted, more than a few people likened them to a Kanye-ified version of the Nike Roshe Run, a widely available silhouette that's been a favorite of both the fashion and gym communities across the world.

We're not here to judge any brand's product lineup but the fact is this: Kanye West's Yeezy Boost 350 is a sneaker that is inescapable in 2016, whether it's the original or something derivative. And for that, Yeezy should indeed feel accomplished.

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