Ye today announced the appointment of veteran sneaker designer Steven Smith as head of Donda Industrial Design. Smith has worked closely with the artist for years, executing Kanye West’s footwear vision through the Adidas Yeezy line.
Smith, who previously held the title of executive designer for Yeezy, began working with West on footwear in 2016. His first projects in the Adidas Yeezy line included the Yeezy Boost 700 and the Yeezy Powerphase.
In her new position, Smith will expand beyond shoes to work on furniture, vehicles and more within the Western Empire. A release from West’s creative company, Donda, announcing Smith’s role features a portfolio of his sneaker designs (which appear below) and a concept for something called the Donda Foam Vehicle.
“I am honored to help create our shared vision for the future,” Smith said in a statement to Complex. “Mr. West is the most inspiring creative I have ever worked with.
Smith’s long career spans nearly as many decades as brands. He’s worked on iconic silhouettes for a number of different sneaker companies, from the New Balance 574 to the Reebok Insta Pump Fury. Smith started as a designer at New Balance in 1986, moved to Adidas in 1988, then moved to Reebok in 1989, spending eight years there. He spent two years at Fila before landing at Nike, where he worked from 1999 to 2009. Over the next decade he worked for Adidas again, this time as a freelancer, and briefly for Keen before to connect with West.
It’s unclear how Smith’s Donda appointment will affect his and West’s relationship with Adidas, which has recently been controversial. Today’s announcement comes after West blasted Adidas on Instagram last month, calling out its biggest brand partner and accusing it of bringing down its Yeezy designs. West’s long-term partnership with Adidas has been successful, but he has occasionally criticized the brand in public statements.
Smith’s new title could be a sign of a growing rift between Adidas and West, with the latter reshuffling his product team to be less aligned with the sneaker brand in the future. Donda didn’t elaborate on what kind of organizational change Smith’s new job entails with regards to Ye’s Adidas deal, but Donda is an entirely separate entity from Adidas.
Adidas did not respond to a request for comment on Smith’s new role.