Kanye West has officially announced a clothing line collaboration with Gap. For all die-hard fashion gurus, hip hop music aficionados and streetwear enthusiasts, the trending hashtag #WestDayEver took social media by storm, accompanied with a new promotional graphic of Gap’s signature logo replaced with ‘YZY’. A single tweet generated over 214,000+ likes on Twitter and became one of the top trending topics of the week, with an overwhelming amount of media exposure and publicity.
Kanye joining forces with this classic American retailer is the arguably one of the weirdest, most mismatched partnerships in fashion news, EVER. In fact, it’s just what 2020 needed to officially be crowned the most bizarre year yet.
The brands’ contrasting ideologies and style is as far polar opposites as two brands could ever get. When Kanye launched his first sneaker line in 2013 with sportswear royalty Adidas, Yeezy Boost sneakers became a household name among sneaker heads and celebrities alike. With this growing success, he quickly expanded his collection into a line of chic hoodies, ripped black skinny jeans, neutral-toned track suits and combat boots for a hefty price of $280 per hoodie and $120 per t-shirt. He even presented a series of seasonal ready-to-wear shows and made appearances at some of the biggest Fashion festivities in the world such as Paris Fashion Week. His marriage to America’s most popular socialite, Kim Kardashian even enticed Anna Wintour to dedicate the highly coveted American Vogue’s cover to the couple in April 2014. He became the epitome of luxury, designer labels and his image quickly (and quite controversially) catapulted into a fashion icon.
That said, it comes to everyone’s surprise that Kanye has decided to sign a ten year contract with a retailer known its casual, accessible and most importantly—affordable—line of clothing. Gap has been known as a brand specializing in inexpensive, modest and simplistic fashion styles targeted towards a demographic of mostly understated, middle-class Caucasian families. It maintains its image as the parent company of brands such as Banana Republic, an professional workwear clothing retailer, Old Navy, a value fast fashion outlet chain and Athleta, an affordable women’s athletic wear line.
So, where does Kanye West come in?
In light of the global pandemic, retail clothing brands are struggling to remain intact with sharp decreases in retail sales forcing some to even file for bankruptcy. For Gap, on boarding Kanye and publicizing this new feat is one of the most efficient ways to recover from the financial drought inculpated by COVID-19, not to mention a complete reinvention of their company image and style. For Kanye, it’s another opportunity to shake up the fashion world and continue to expand his creative business empire, with a different mission and goal in hand. Kanye’s had ties with Gap which go way back to when he worked for the retailer aged 15 folding clothes as a store customer service associate. He’s cited that it was an ‘aspirational job’, and voiced his support for being ‘gapped out’, when describing his earlier style influences.
Another positive outcome of this partnership is Kanye’s goal to locally source clothing manufacturing within the United States, specifically in a production factory located in Cody, Wyoming. This not only introduces assembly-line jobs for factory workers and opportunities for local distributors, but also promotes a beneficial economic boost for the US economy as Gap has previously sourced their manufacturing in countries such as China, Bangladesh and Cambodia.
With an international fan base across different sectors of music, production and fashion, this new collection projected to release in 2021 is likely to create an immense impact across Gap flagship stores across the world. Gap might even have the opportunity to surpass its longtime competitor, JCrew into modernizing its marketing tactics and fashion-forward looks. So, as far as Kanye’s wild antics and uncanny projects go, this new business venture seems to be heading in the right direction. Although it’ll completely diminish the preppy, hip and classic patriotic looks we’ve been associating with Gap, it brings a celebrity’s artistic influences to life and completely reinvents the notion of fashion labels gone rogue.