Kanye West's Style Evolution Proves Why He Is Truly A Fashion Icon, No Matter What The Haters Say

In the past 38 years of his life, Kanye West's style evolution has turned him from a buzzworthy artist to a fashion icon. When he started his career, West's choice of clothing mirrored some of the trends happening in hip-hop and street style, but it didn't take long for him to break out of the sartorial box and follow a more fashion forward aesthetic. West's relationship with design houses such as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Balmain show up in his own fashion sense, whether he's on stage performing, walking down the red carpet, or sitting front row at Fashion Week. In honor of Kanye's 38th birthday, let's take a journey into his exciting, outrageous, and inspiring style transformation.

Buckethead, 2002

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A young Kanye kept it clean and simple in a white tee while posing with Roc-a-Fella’s Damon Dash.

Mustard on the Beat, 2003

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The rapper looked casual in a mustard hoodie during an early concert performance.

I Dream of Grammy, 2004

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The Louis Vuitton scarf adds a nice touch to his Yearbook-ready photo.

In Check, 2004

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Kanye’s love affair with color and print goes way back.

Pink Ranger, 2004

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Giving Hamptons realness with the chairman of the board Jay-Z.

College Chic, 2004

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He rocked the teddy bear sweater while promoting The College Dropout on MTV’s TRL.

Grandpa Sweater, 2004

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Colors and prints, part two.

Total Prepster, 2004

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Kanye looked A+ cool in pink and brown at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

White Out, 2005

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While he often went casual for performances, Kanye was all about dressing up for major red carpet moments like the Grammys.

Sunglasses at Night, 2005

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Kanye accessorized his pastel knit cardigan with a pair of Gucci sunglasses. Also, remember Ryan Cabrera’s hair?

Fashion Forward, 2006

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His Late Registration era gave way to Kanye going full force with his love for fashion, starting with this 1970s-inspired look at the Grammys red carpet.

Band Geek, 2006

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He later changed into a drum major costume for his Grammy performance with Jamie Foxx.

Fur Real, 2006

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Kanye wore a Vuitton fur scarf during an after party for designer Zac Posen.

Shutting It Down, 2007

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The rapper made the louvered sunglasses, better known as Shutter Shades, cool again during the Graduation era.

The Prince and Me, 2007

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Even Prince Harry wanted a pair of Shutter Shades.

Fendi Forever, 2007

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Aside from Yeezy’s bright yellow Fendi logo tee, the other notable fashion statement here is Rihanna’s cane (just ignore the dudes on either side of her).

Emo Kanye, 2008

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His 808s & Hearbreak album came with a nerdy chic aesthetic. I approve.

Denim Delivery, 2008

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Color blocking like a boss at the BAPE store opening.

Louis Vuitton Don, 2008

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Fashion literally had his back (by Vuitton, of course) during a concert at the Louisiana Superdome.

All of the Lights, 2008

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Kanye often experimented with different media, whether it’s with his music, performances, or his clothes.

Taylor-gate, 2009

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The leather shirt and jeans combo signaled another style change for the artist, but it was all eclipsed by him interrupting Taylor Swift during her MTV VMAs win. Since then, Tay has forgiven Kanye his outburst.

Beat It, 2009

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The sparkly jacket, the glove, the confident swagger… all inspired by the King of Pop.

Take A Bow, 2011

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Even though Kanye’s first runway show received mixed reviews, his personal style was understated and cool on the catwalk.

Met Man, 2011

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He rolled up to the Met Gala in a custom tux by Tory Burch.

Rule Breaker, 2011

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Not one to follow any conventions of fashion, Kanye wore a silk women’s shirt from Celine’s Spring collection at Coachella.

The Rise of Kimye, 2012

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Enter Kim Kardashian.

What's That Jacket? 2012

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A fan of the fashion house’s avant garde style, Kanye attended the Margiela x H&M launch in a camel trench from the collection.

Air Yeezy, 2012

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He wore his own Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Zen Grey” at London Fashion Week.

Power Couple, 2013

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The stylish parents-to-be were all everyone could talk about at that year’s Met Gala.

Why You Gotta Be So Blue, 2013

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Kanye kept it casual in blue at the Hood By Air show.

King of Coats, 2014

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Just a full length rabbit fur coat, NBD.

Balmain Royalty, 2014

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His and hers Balmain, because Kimye.

Masked In Margiela, 2014

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He donned the now iconic Margiela mask during the Yeezus tour.

Going Goth, 2015

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Kanye attended Paris Fashion Week with the eternally cool Lorde.

Another Day, Another Gala, 2015

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“In the future, we will have our own Met Gala theme.”

Bulletproof, 2015

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Here’s to the next 38+ years of Kanye fashion goodness.