After years of behind-the-scenes talks, celebrity fashion designer Kanye West has announced new plans for collaboration with quintessential America retailer, Gap. The collection will be hitting shelves in the first half of 2021.
The announcement marks the start of a 10-year deal with the Yeezy visionary, with high hopes of returning the Gap brand to its former glory.
The collaboration between these two cultural icons has been positioned as a mutually-beneficial partnership, with both parties looking to reach out to new audiences.
West has publicly spoken of his own personal discomfort with the concept of luxury fashion, and the pricing of these garments to deliberately create exclusivity and disparity among fashion followers. The creative entrepreneur revealed some time ago his desire to create a more democratic fashion line that is accessible to all, and Gap could bring that dream into a reality.
Although Gap has reported some incredible successes in its 50-year history, it has been struggling over recent years with flagging sales and dwindling consumer interest. The brand reported a quarter loss of £738 million in the three months up to May, making it yet another fashion brand that’s weaknesses have been exposed by the recent Coronavirus pandemic.
Shares in Gap soared on Friday after the announcement of the new Yeezy Gap apparel, with stock prices in Gap Inc up almost 25%. It seems already that West’s Midas touch is in full force. This is a much-need injection of both novelty and street-cred for Gap which has lost its brand identity, its relevancy and, ultimately, its market. Having seen the contribution of West’s celebrity superpower to Adidas’s growing popularity, it’s possible that Gap could be restored to its legacy as a wardrove staple.
While Gap has been praised for recognising Black fashion talent, there have been concerns that the collaboration with Yeezy is merely an attempt to capitalise on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gap has failed to honour any commitment to paying for pre-Covid-19 clothing orders, leaving thousands of minority workers in peril, which reflects of a wider problem of racism in the fashion system. But the inclusion of Black voices within corporate spaces, particularly in fashion, is not to be downplayed. If other brands take note, we should see a much fairer and equitable industry.
By Rebecca Taylor