By Avi Zaleon
Being a great musician is hard. Being a great artist that encompasses music and fashion is even harder. Yet, Kanye West and Travis Scott have been able to do this better than anybody else on the planet without much debate. While it’s warranted to give each man his well-earned flowers, I thought it would be fun to compare them to see who is better specifically as a shoe designer. Also remember, this is my opinion, always happy to hear yours and your thoughts. Hit me at on Twitter @avi_zaleon
If you take the best of each designer, it really comes down to your own preference. The Air Yeezy 2, 700 Wave Runner and 350 Zebra (or Beluga) versus a Travis 1, Cactus Jack 4 and Travis Dunk Low is honestly, to me, too close to call. If I had my pick for my collection I’d probably go with the trio of Travis shoes, but I honestly can’t say one has a definite edge over the other.
Verdict: I’m copping out and saying it’s a tie.
This is where Kanye takes it to a whole other level. Not only has he played with barrier-breaking color blocking, but the innovation behind his silhouettes is unparalleled. Yeezy Brand has introduced models that -whether you like them or hate them- look like nothing else on the market and in some cases even influence the market. Most recently, the Yeezy 450 (yes, the dumplings), FOAM RNNR, QNTM and Knit RNR are great examples. When you take risks like that it won’t appeal to everybody, but Yeezy has proven that it’s a risk worth taking.
While not as loud, Travis’ ability to seamlessly bring new flavors to classic Nike models with subtle touches is amazing. Who knew something as simple as flipping the Swoosh, adding a paisley bandana pattern to a Dunk or putting a stash pocket on the side of a Jordan 6 could make such a big difference?
Given the debacle of Virgil Abloh’s Dunks, it makes you appreciate the consistency of Travis’ models that much more. Granted, recently Travis has only released new colorways of previous collaborations, but even those have not missed. The details on the British Khaki 6’s and Fragment 1 Low’s are perfect. In the past the Travis Dunks, Olive 6’s, Cactus Jack 4’s and his 1’s have not just been good, but damn near perfect in their execution.
On the other side, Kanye’s somewhat chaotic style means we’re either getting homeruns or strikeouts with few lying somewhere in between. This year’s Yeezy Day was a good chance to remember the hits like 700 Wave Runners and 350 Zebras. But there’s also been a parade of recent “meh” releases like the 700 MNVN, 350 colorways like Light and Ash Pearl/Stone/Blue, as well as the divisive Boost 380.
Look, we’re deciding who is the best shoe designer. And while I personally like Travis’ collection overall more than Kanye’s based solely on aesthetics, Travis is essentially creating new skins for existing silhouettes while Kanye and his team are designing new shoes from the ground-up.
Everything in the creative world is inspired by something else, but it would be extremely difficult to find predecessors that looked anything like the Air Yeezy, Wave Runner or FOAM RNNR. It’s been six years since Kanye signed with Adidas and Yeezy Brand continues to innovate, evolve…and for the most part, the market continues to buy. Sure models like the 350 Boost may be on their way out, but we know that whatever’s next from Kanye (and this applies to the new Knit RNR) will be different, probably make us feel uncomfortable and that in itself makes him the better designer.
Avi Zaleon is a writer living in New York City, but originally from the Baltimore area. He worked in sports journalism writing for MLB.com, The Dallas Morning News and other outlets before crossing over to marketing. Currently his favorite sneakers (that he actually owns) include the A Ma Maniere Jordan 3, Off-White Jordan 5 and Salehe Bembury New Balance Water Be The Guide.