Now this is a collaboration we didn’t see coming. Music mogul, fashion designer and self-proclaimed religious leader, Kanye West, has signed a new deal with maker of affordable bootleg jeans and flannel shirts, Gap, to produce a new collection called Yeezy x Gap to “disrupt fashion retail”.
News of the forthcoming partnership was announced over the weekend, with the collection set to debut in 2021 with a range of menswear, womenswear and kids’ clothes (we can already see the Kardashian-West brood fronting the campaign, particularly ready-made-star North).
Teasing the partnership on Instagram with the first glimpse of the “unique Yeezy Gap expressions” – an updated take on Gap’s original blue logo with the letters “YZY” instead of “GAP” – Kanye West hashtagged the announcement, #Westdayever. Considering Gap’s ailing sales, it may very well be for the US retailer. According to The Guardian, Gap reported a quarterly loss of $932m (£738m) in the three months to 2 May, so the acquisition of West’s uber-cool Yeezy seems a timely call for help, the fashion giant clearly hoping he resuscitate the retailer.
The deal is also a long one: The New York Times reporting it’s a 10-year deal with an option to renew after five, saying Gap is aiming to bring in $1bn (£909m) in annual sales from the collaboration by the five-year point, a huge target, no doubt.
In terms of aesthetic and audience, however, the two brands couldn’t be further apart; West’s Yeezy label a super directional, fleshy, skin-baring line for provocatering, while Gap is the place to get a plain tee and pair of sweats, a mall brand.
But upon closer inspection, the alignment isn’t all that odd, with Gap’s block colour palette and structured styles (particularly from the ’90s) actually evoking a touch of the Yeezy’s.
Kanye West himself isn’t that far removed from the retailer, either. In fact, he worked there as a teenager and has even spoken of his grand plans to become its head creative director, “like to be the Steve Jobs of the Gap”.
So it seems everything has come full circle and West is just going back to where it all started. Fashion is circular after all. Although we’re not betting on him wearing a black turtleneck anytime soon.