On Tuesday, just in time for Kanye West’s 44th birthday, Gap finally dropped the first item from its long-awaited collaboration with the rapper’s label Yeezy: a $200 cobalt-blue puffer, which West was actually spotted wearing last week in Los Angeles. (Yes, in the 80-degree heat—complete with a shiny balaclava that obscured his entire head.) Buyers won’t have to join him in sweltering; the unisex “round jacket,” which is made of recycled nylon, doesn’t ship until fall. Until then, the public can enjoy floating projections of the piece in West’s hometown, Chicago, as well as New York City and L.A.
Last year, the New York Times reported that Gap expects Yeezy’s “modern, elevated basics” to generate a billion dollars in revenue after five years, at which point West would have the option to renew the deal. If those earnings really do pan out, it would be a boon for the ailing mall standard. Last year alone, pandemic-related store closures made for a billion-dollar loss, though the company has reported some post-pandemic turnaround success. (Adidas, however, continues to hold onto the proven moneymaker: Yeezy sneakers, which are valued at nearly $3 billion.)
Still, it’s something of a shocker that Yeezy Gap—or at least the early beginnings of it—is actually seeing the light of day. For starters, just before partnering with West, Gap abruptly abandoned its planned collaboration with Telfar—one of the most in-demand brands out there today, which burst onto the mainstream shortly after Gap called things off.
And then, of course, there’s the Kanye of it all. While he and Kim Kardashian have agreed on sharing joint custody of their four children, the pair is still currently in the midst of a divorce (which Kardashian has finally acknowledged publicly), at a time when West has already been struggling with his mental health. In any case, it’s long been clear that in the realm of Yeezy, deadlines don’t apply.
Then again, West—who was a Gap employee is in his teens—isn’t the only one behind the mega-deal. Beloved up-and-comers Willy Chavarria and Mowalola Olungesi are among those who have reportedly provided input into the line. As for when we’ll see more of what they’ve been cooking up—not to mention the album his manager just promised is on the way—remains unseen.