As far as fashion goes, Kanye West earned the right to break character and smile. His initial foray—a bloated, been-there-done-that runway affair in Paris circa 2011—was met with disdain from insiders and critics, with one famously tweeting “The Kanye West show, in my humble opinion, is proof that everyone can love fashion but not everyone can be a fashion designer,” and another quipping “Next season Kanye should get a tailor so clothes might fit. Models swimming in some looks. Kills the hot look, no?”
Well, let’s get one thing straight: We live in a very different world; one that shifts along with Kanye’s caprices and adapts to his standards of beauty, not the other way around.
We all know what happened since then, or, rather who: a former bandage-dress -wearing, Midori-shilling, Loub-loving reality star. A good girl who had her own brand of fame and the body of Kanye’s dreams, thereby qualifying her to undergo what can only be described as the world’s most victorious makeover. Pygmalion had nothing on these two.
And, with Kim, came her family—can’t have them looking like they just fell out of the Calabassas Shibuya on girl’s night—and soon, they too started adopting a very specific aesthetic orchestrated by Mr. West. It started small—a nude bodysuit here, a khaki trench coat there—before becoming its own beast, setting the tone for how people dress in the two-thousand-teens. And once we all started copying that aesthetic, it was time for Kanye to try and make it really worth his time.
What resulted was a partnership with Adidas—perfect timing given the world’s athleisure fixation—and three dystopian-flavored presentations chock-a-block with bleak culture (holla, Vanessa Beecroft) and West’s take on the Now: body stockings, holey Haider Ackerman-esque sweatshirts and tees, flight jackets, oversized outerwear, and a mix of footwear that spanned from the mesh sneakers copied the world over to high-cut bodysuits with no bra and stripper-esque perspex booties—hey, it’s Kanye we’re talking about.
Throughout the seasons, the palette shifted slightly from flesh-tones and pastels to rugged shades of rust, cornflower and red, but the themes were apparent: militancy, race, inequality, a little bit of sex. Some might agree his New York fashion events border on turgid, but for a guy who encouraged his wife to pose naked with the goal of breaking the Internet, it’s all par for the course.
To say the Yeezy effect is potent is an understatement—you see it in Kim’s nude leggings and matching bodysuits. You see it in Kylie‘s men’s sweatpants, cleavage-baring bralettes, and khaki dad hat. You see it on every Instagram Juvaderm-filled It-girl from Amina Blue to Kelsey Calemine and Sarah Snyder. You see it at Coachella. You see it on your 15-year-old cousins in New Jersey. The problem: You can’t afford $2,501 ripped sweaters and $645 sneaker-boots.
Which is why the web is literally overflowing with Yeezy knockoffs—some explicit, some thematic—but all very, very accessible. Here, we found over 40 pieces all under $200 that, when worn together, will trick the world into thinking you’re wearing Kanye’s stark designs from head to toe.