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Sneaker Sketch of the Week // Mark Smith's Nike Air Yeezy Concept

words // Nick DePaula

With the Air Yeezy franchise seemingly coming to a close earlier this month after the release of the "Red October" colorway of Kanye West's second Nike signature model, lets take a look back to the very earliest of starting points and a sneaker sketch from well over five years ago.

While Kanye helped to personally sketch and design elements of the first Air Yeezy throughout the process, this sketch seen below was penned by Nike Innovation Kitchen designer Mark Smith. It features upper lines we'd come to see atop the final first Yeezy, but the midsole is noticeably different.

This version of the midsole was at one point created specifically for the project, with the front half's rubber fully glowing in the dark, and the latter portion sloping into the midfoot strap for a more streamlined design. 

During the production process of 3,000 pairs for each of the three colorways of the Air Yeezy that would eventually release, the call was made to use existing tooling instead.

“We did new tooling at first, and it was sort of spacey, and then we decided to go away from new tooling and use something that was existing, and he wanted to use Jordan tooling," Smith reveals. "We said 'No' to that, but then he saw the Assault Retro, and it was basically the III tooling and it had the word Jordan replaced with Nike. So he kind of beat us on a technicality, which was pretty cool. [Laughs] It turned out great, because it took it back to that era.”

We're all familiar with what the final Air Yeezy looks like, but check out what the shoe's midsole almost became.

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