It’s been almost a year since Kanye West announced his brand multi-billion Yeezy was launching a collection with GAP. It was an announcement which heralded, in his words, “the WEST day ever.”
Now, following 12 months of speculation and rumour, the first fruits of the creative collaboration have been revealed—and it’s as low key and streetwear-inspired as one might expect from the brains behind Adidas Yeezy Boost, one of the bestselling trainers of all time.
The shiny blue oversized jacket, which costs $200, is exclusively available to preorder in the US, much to the dismay, no doubt, of Yeezy fans all over the world. Within a few hours of going live on the site yesterday it had already sold out. As yet there’s no information on when other product will drop, and where it might be available, but it’s looking likely it’ll be arriving in hyped drops as has become a customary marketing tactic for streetwear labels.
For GAP, which has today announced it will close 19 stores around the UK, the partnership could not have come at a better time. Founded in 1969 with its first store in London in 1987, GAP initially enjoyed success as a purveyor of all-American casualwear, great denim, perfect white tees and the occasional lumberjack shirt. In recent years though the high street retailer has struggled to retain its relevance in an increasingly saturated casualwear market and has failed to compete with more specialist denim brands. In fact, in the days before the deal was inked last summer, the GAP reported quarterly losses of nearly $1 billion USD, thanks in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing stores to close.
West’s deal with the GAP is for ten years, with an option to renew after five, according to the New York Times. GAP hopes, says the piece, to bring in $1bn (£909m) in annual sales from the collaboration by the five-year point.
West, who began his career working as a teen on the GAP shop floor in Chicago, regards the move as more of a Steve Jobs at Apple-type brand takeover and has had his sights set on the brand since as far back as 2015: “I’m not talking about a capsule. I’m talking about full Hedi Slimane creative control of the Gap,” he said at the time.
And he continued the fighting talk last summer. “I went to the GAP and I said let me try to do something and I couldn’t get past the politics and I’m like I’m telling you, I got it. I know it, I can do it, give me a shot,” said West on US radio when the deal was announced in June 2020. “Our first night we sold 83,000 tour merch… imagine if you take these type of thoughts and connect it with a corporation like the GAP.”
For now, we have very little information on what the remaining collection will look like, although from Instagram teasers it looks like London designer Mowalola, who West tapped as Creative Director for the project, has focused on creating the ‘perfect hoodie,’ baggy cargo pants, her signature tie-dye tees and casual kidswear, including dungarees, pink jeans and a kiddie baseball shirt emblazoned with ‘Rookies.’
But if the storming success of the first product is anything to go by, it’s looking like Kanye West could be just the hypemaker the ailing label needs to turn its fortunes around.