Kanye West is a man who desires no introduction. Love him or hate him he is one of American’s most prolific artists and is the most latest hip-hop icon to be part of the billionaire’s club. Forbes recently reported that Kanye’s net worth is somewhere around $1.3 Billion, surpassing his sister-in-law Kylie Jenner – the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.
Early in his career, Ye built a name for himself as one of Jay-Z’s go-to producers. He went on to release iconic hits like “Jesus Walks”, “Golddigger”, “Flashing Lights” and many more. Although Kanye West is best known as an artist and music producer, most of his wealth comes from another source.
Music is what propelled the Kanye West name into households across America, but it isn’t what made him a billionaire. Much of his fortune can be attributed to his clothing company, Yeezy. Yeezy was spawned as a partnership with Adidas and has quickly become a seminal brand in the history of street wear. Kanye’s ultra-trendy futurist take on modern apparel has captivated an entire generation of fashion-forward kids and has given the artist a new platform to express his unique vision.
Although today Yeezy is a gigantic company and a smashing success, the history of the brand is rife with conflict and doubt.
Kanye was always a trendsetter. From his early days as the pink polo, backpack-clad producer turned rapper, Ye knew how to brand himself differently than traditional mainstream hip hop artists of the time.
Many fans forget, but Yeezy was not Kanye’s first foray into fashion. In the late 2000s, just after the release of his third album Graduation, Ye announced he was working on a clothing line
Called Pastelle. Pastelle was said to feature collaborations from members of his core creative team like Virgil Abloh and Don C as well as other prominent creatives minds like Ben Baller and KAWS. Tons of hype was built around Pastelle but following chaotic events in West’s life – like his mother’s passing away and his infamous Taylor Swift encounter at the VMA’s – the brand went into production limbo and was eventually scrapped.
Kanye returned to music, but fashion never left his mind. In 2009, he and Abloh interned together at Fendi in Paris to learn the ins and outs of high fashion. After spending several years entrenched in that world, Kanye emerged bitter and resentful that his ideas were not respected among the elites of high fashion.
Fans and cultural critics will remember the famous interview West gave where he went on Sway in the Morning to vent his frustrations about the fashion industry. Sway urged Kanye to start his own brand and prove the naysayers wrong. Although Kanye argued with him for most of the interview, eventually that’s what he did.
It’s this angst and frustration that makes Kanye such a provocative creative and volatile personality. Rather than settling into a niche, he has a constant need to reinvent himself and rail at whatever powers that be are preventing his success.
He’s built a billion-dollar empire by never taking no for an answer and constantly seeking to break new boundaries. His recent battles with mental health and strange detour into politics and gospel music have left many to wonder what will be next for West. Whatever it is, it is likely to be very Kanye.
Outside of Yeezy, his net worth is also comprised of his musical discography, his real estate portfolio – including the ranch he bought in Wyoming that houses $300,000 worth of livestock – and the millions of dollars’ worth of luxury cars and other personal property he and his wife jointly own.