The revitalisation of The GAP: The highly anticipated Yeezy-GAP collection
On the 26th June, 2020, Kanye West took to Twitter to reveal that his flagship clothing brand Yeezy had signed a 10-year contract with GAP (for whom he used to work before his rise to fame), in a bid to fulfil his vision of creating affordable clothing for the masses. Accompanied by the hashtag ‘#WESTDAYEVER’, the picture he posted showed Yeezy model Mercedes Maxwell donning a brightly coloured red jacket, a blue oversized hoodie and carrying a waterproof carryall bag with the brands logo ‘YZY’ embroidered into it. This gave followers a preview of what to expect over the 10-year period: a radical move away from the greys and earth tones that had dominated their designs for years, but still boasting the same oversized, cropped look that characterised the brand in its rise.
Several patents were filed in the following months, for hoodies, coats, bags, sunglasses, T-shirts and even footwear to be created by the two designers. Sonia Syngal reported that the YEEZY team’s “creativity is through the roof” and is “spilling over” into other realms of GAP’s business, “inspiring and re-energizing the team”, which is an exciting prospect for those anticipating the unlikely duo’s collab. British-Nigerian designer Mowalola Ogunlesi was selected to be the head of design for the collaboration. West is known for having a keen eye for design talent— for example the late Virgil Abloh, who worked for Louis Vuitton, Matthew M. Williams, who is now at Givenchy, and Jerry Lorenzo, who helms his popular Fear of God line, all worked with West on design in the past. However, to publicly name another designer as the lead on one of his projects is new territory for Ye. Moreover, backing a black female designer is also a big deal in a role as crucial as this.
GAP has lost its relevance significantly over the past few years with brand “failing to adapt to the new customer” according to retail expert Natalie Berg, so this Yeezy deal, along with the Ogunlesi hire, lends the retailer a cultural cachet it didn’t have. While GAP hired a black designer, Telfar Clemens, who had worked previously at Giorgio Armani and Perry Ellis, the Ogunlesi and Yeezy GAP deal is an unprecedented step forward within the company. She will undoubtedly offer a new perspective to the basics brand that it needs.
However, it was not until the rollout for Kanye West’s Donda album had begun that the first piece of clothing was released; the Round Jacket in a royal blue colourway. This jacket sported an oversized look, with no zippers or buttons and only a pull tag to tighten the chest. This was later released in a red colourway in the follow-up to the first Donda listening event, which saw Ye don the jacket with matching red trousers and face mask: this was rather reminiscent of his look at the 2010 VMA Awards, at which he revealed his masterpiece single ‘Runaway’. Similarly, on the night of the second Donda listening event on 5th August, the black Round Jacket was released. The jacket itself is made in a Chinese factory out of recycled nylon and polyester fill, making it a more sustainable product for the consumer.
The second item of the collection was released on September 29th; the Yeezy GAP Double Layered Hoodie, or the ‘Perfect Hoodie’ as it was dubbed. Released in a plethora of colourways (an all-black colourway, a royal blue, a red, purple, brown and ochre) and for the fair price point of $90, the hoodie is double layered, meaning it consists of the same amount of material as two hoodies, making it a warm alternative for the winter months. Each piece is made of 100% double layer cotton, unlike most regular and designer hoodies, most of which are somewhat artificially produced using polyester. In lieu of any drawstrings for the hood or any graphics on the fabric, the hoodie boasts an oversized, boxy fit with drop shoulders and a large pocket sewn onto the front. A largely sustainable and built-to-last product, the Yeezy-Gap ‘Perfect Hoodie’ really is exactly that.
Whilst the collection has only just began to be released, it has hit the ground running with two sustainable and inspiring products, both with various captivating colour iterations. The collaboration has been a necessary revitalisation for the GAP brand, who had closed all of their shops in the UK and several more in other countries due to financial difficulties Should sales meet the projections of retail experts, then equity in GAP could be worth up to $700 million (Bloomberg).
Image Credits: Flickr