Vetements posted an image of the shoe on Instagram on Saturday (December 16, 2024), no doubt in response to West launching a Yeezy capsule of merchandise that included a sock shoe on the same day. With a caption reading, “The original flat sock sneaker since 2019 engineered by VETEMENTS. Accept no imitations #NothingBeatsTheOriginal,” additional images on the same post reference a 2019 Hypebeast article highlighting Vetements “Karate Sneaker, a sole free sock shoe.”
Launched in 2014, Vetements was founded by Demna Gvasalia and his brother, Guram Gvasalia. While Demna now leads creatives for Balenciaga and is no longer with Vetements, he was still with the brand in 2019 when the Karate sneaker made its first appearance. Vetements is now lead by Guram Gvasalia, who wasn’t involved with design when his brother was with the label.
Now available for pre-order and priced at $200, the Yeezy shoe is called YZY Pods and is available for pre-order in three sizes: 1 for feed sized U.S. six and under, size 2 for U.S. 7-9.5 and size 3 for U.S. 10-13. YZY Pods’ upper resembles a crew sock while the sole is covered with a synthetic material to protect the sock and provide protection from the elements. Prior to the launch, West has been spotted wearing YZY Pods, along with other items of clothing featured in the capsule.
Meanwhile, Balenciaga recently debuted its own version of the sock shoe, an item included in its fall 2024 collection. On Instagram, the shoe is offered in either black or white and is described as made from a “technical knit,” providing a “sock like effect” and detailed with an embossed Balenciaga logo at the back of the sole.
Designer Mike Hope, known as Mike the Ruler, weighed in on Yeezy’s version of the sock shoe on Instagram Stories with a series of posts blasting West for blatently copying Demna Gvasalia’s sock design idea. In one post, he alleged, “Step1: Find one of Balenciaga’s footwear suppliers in Italy; Step 2: Buy samples of unreleased Deman designs from the factories; Step 3: hire Balenciaga’s head footwear designer since he’s employed externally assuming he will probably get fired for conflict f interest (he did); Step 4: Cut Balenciaga logo out of soles and sell the shoes as your own before Balenciaga brings them to the market; Step 5: Play the victim after gaslighting your fans into believing Deman copied you.”
In a later post, Mike added, “Although every brand doing a sock shoe in the past few years is inspired by Demna or inspired by Ye being inspired by Demna,” he wrote in one post.
Adding intrigue to the sock design wars, Puck News surfaced rumors two months ago that Yeezy was working with designer David Tourniaire-Beauciel, who is known for designing Balenciaga’s hugely successful Triple S sneaker. However, when contacted by Puck News, Tourniaire-Beauciel denied the rumor, responding in an email, “It was an idea at some point.”
According to LinkedIn, Tourniaire-Beauciel current role is the head footwear designer for Balenciaga, a role he’s held for seven years. Without naming names, Mike the Ruler in his Instagram Stories stated that a Balenciaga design consultant who worked with Yeezy had been let go because of a conflict of interest.
The Dissolution Of Kanye West and Demna Gvasalia’s Creative Friendship
West and Demna Gvasalia had long been fans of each other’s work and the two creatives joined forces on a Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga capsule while West was the opening model in Balenciaga’s spring 2023 runway. West famously dressed Kim Kardashian in Balenciaga when they were married and she has gone on to become a band ambassador for the label, a relationship she maintained even after the label was rocked by a scandal related to campaign images.
Once close collaborators, West and Demna Gvasalia’s relationship appears to have hit the skids, with West shouting “f*ck Demna, f*ck Balenciaga” in a recent statement he made at an event on Thursday (December 14th) promoting his Vultures album, which was slated for a December 15th drop but has been held up by approvals for samples.
Their creative partnership first showed signs of hitting a fork in the road following a series of antisemitic and bigoted statements West made in the lead up to Adidas and Gap ending their partnerships with him in October 2022. Following West’s Yeezy runway show in Paris, that included a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt, Balenciaga parent company Kering told WWD in late October 2022, that “Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist.”