Gap Puts Its Telfar Collaboration on Hold in Favor of Partnering With Kanye West
It seems the anticipated Telfar collaboration with Gap has taken a back seat to a 10-year Yeezy deal.
Kanye West decided he will “disrupt fashion retail” with a Gap partnership, according to a statement from the brand.
For the next 10 years, “modern, elevated basics” will be sold as part of the Yeezy collaboration with the once popular, but recently wavering, mall brand. Mowalola Ogunlesi will be design director for the collaboration. According to a report from The New York Times, Gap expects Yeezy to produce a billion dollars of revenue after five years of the partnership. If all goes well by then, West will have the option to renew the Yeezy Gap deal even further.
You’ll be able to buy all the khakis, tees, and hoodies your heart desires from Yeezy Gap in Gap stores and online beginning next year. The only thing you won’t be able to purchase there is a pair of Yeezy sneakers, which will remain sold by Adidas.
Gap was once so popular it was an advertising powerhouse in the ’90s and early ’00s, and though it has struggled in recent years (especially in the past few months, losing roughly a billion dollars due to store closures amid the coronavirus pandemic), the brand still remains somewhat ubiquitous, likely due to its affordable price points for basic tees and denim.
Still, though, a large question remains—whatever happened to that Telfar collaboration? Earlier this year, the retailer announced a partnership with the inventor of the “Bushwick Birkin” in an attempt to make Telfar more accessible and revitalize the Gap, turning it into a cool brand once again. The drop was supposed to occur in the spring, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the anticipated collection was shelved for an indefinite period of time.
For a brand that was so on the money about collaborating with a sought-after designer like Telfar, Gap’s partnership with Yeezy could feel like a gimmicky attempt at maintaining relevance, especially when public opinion of West and his work has not been the most positive in the past few years.
Still, in some ways it makes sense for Gap to tap West for a collaboration of this magnitude. He’s been trying to sell the “all-American” aesthetic and ideology with Yeezy by developing a business hub in the heart of a small Wyoming town, while also eventually winning over the toughest of critics at Paris Fashion Week (though maybe that part has a little bit more to do with his daughter, North West, and her rapping talents).
Maybe this collaboration will work in the long run, if sales performance is high. (West could also reap the benefits of royalties and potential equity paid to him by Gap, Inc. depending on sales.) And if Yeezy’s sneakers are valued at nearly $3 billion, who’s to say some Yeezy khaki shorts might not rake in that kind of cash, too? Kim Kardashian has already tweeted her support for her husband, calling the partnership “a dream come true!”
And after all, the entrepreneur, who once worked at a Gap in Chicago as a teen, did say just five years ago in an interview that he wanted “to be the Steve Jobs of the Gap,” and expressed his desires to be creative director for the brand. As Gap is for everybody, Yeezy can now be for everybody, too—democratized to the point that suburban teens can get their Fashion Week fix without spending nearly $900 on a Yeezy cardigan.
Related: Can Telfar Make Gap Cool Again?