Who is Dingyun Zhang, adidas' new signature designer and possible successor to YEEZY?

With the departure of Kanye West and the upcoming discontinuation of the YEEZY lineline, which has already taken a toll on the company, adidas is struggling to compensate. To find designer signings that would make up for the financial losses as well as the image deficit, ideally repositioning it in the limited sneaker niche. Sean Wotherspoon doesn't have the desired impact, Fear of God Athletics follows the same pathBut the brand with the three stripes still has a few trump cards up its sleeve, with talented profiles playing on the avant-garde. We've already mentioned Mr. Baileybut Dingyun Zhang could well be the next big thing. Because the brand by the eponymous Chinese designer has just the right touch. YEEZY. And for good reason: he's a former member of the label...

Dingyun Zhang, the student who helped create the YEEZY 700 Wave Runner

Born in northern China, Dingyun Zhang grew up in Beijing and quickly cultivated a passion for fashion. This passion began with his attraction to sneakers, and more specifically to the b-ball models worn by the NBA stars he adores. His frustration at not being able to buy them led him to start designing his own pairs. At the age of 16, after expanding his references and maturing his artistic desires, he flew to England to further his education. He attended an art school, before joining the prestigious Central Saint Martins.

Endowed with an assertive creative vision, he was the only member of his graduating class to embrace streetwear, perceived by his peers as overused, in a "to elevate him"as he confided to System Magazine. His approach caught the eye of one of his teachers, who put him in touch with a certain... Kanye West. It was 2016, and everything accelerated for Dingyun: invited by Ye to an interview in Calabasas, he made such a strong impression that he immediately joined the YEEZY design team. He will be involved in a number of major projects, from YEEZY Seasons to sneakers, with the notable development, under the aegis of famous footwear designer Steven Smith, of the iconic 700 Wave Runner

An avant-garde style for the adidas revival?

This YEEZY connection explains why Dingyun Zhang has been creating a buzz ever since she presented her very first collection at London Fashion Week in February 2020. In fact, all her models wore the FOAM RNNRa new silhouette at the time, which he unveiled in a multitude of versions. A nice decisive pass from Ye, but in truth, the show didn't just draw attention to the sneakers. With his protruding down jackets extending into puffy balaclavas, sculptural pieces with a mutant, even alien quality, Dingyun's style immediately fascinated the fashion world. Not that he's ready to capitalize: to date, he hasn't dropped anything under his own name, and doesn't even have a website.

The reason? After his first success, the designer continued his studies, planned a move to Wyoming to join Ye - unsuccessfully, due to the pandemic - and, above all, says he doesn't want to sell anything until everything is perfect in his eyes. In the absence of access to his products, which go beyond cutting-edge aesthetics to constantly reflect on functionality and design through the use of innovative fabrics, Zhang graces us with beautiful collabs: Area, Birkenstock, Moncler for a capsule of his Genius project, soon Marni... and finally adidas! In recent days, the designer has shared a story showing a sneaker box flanked by a co-brand, making the association official. It's a natural move for the two labels, who are obviously close by virtue of their history with YEEZY, and all the more so for the German outfitter at a time when it is looking for strong signatures following the discontinuation of the line worn by Kanye. His alliance with Dingyun Zhang promises to establish his presence in the avant-garde, but perhaps also, given his talent, to put him back on the road to major commercial success. In any case, the collab promises to be an exciting one, so count on us to tell you more as soon as possible!

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Alexandre Pauwels

Journaliste sneakers, mode, lifestyle. Auteur du livre "Sneakers Obsession".