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The partnership of Yeezy and Gap talks about the current democratization of fashion – Glossy


The 10-year partnership between Kanye West and Gap, announced on June 26, surprised many.

Gap was in trouble even before the coronavirus devastated its retail sales and forced it to lay off around 10% of its workforce. Then there is West, with its record of lighting in the worlds of sneakers, streetwear and haute couture. But the movement actually fits quite easily alongside Wests history as a person who constantly goes against the most popular trends and common wisdom and tries to marry high fashion and accessibility.

The partnership is emblematic of how fashion and streetwear are evolving: West works with Gap; The fear of God Jerry Lorenzo has just deposited the last collection of his brand of affordable essentials Essentials. The culture of exclusivity and hype in streetwear gives way to what West and Lorenzo called “democratic fashion. “

The partnership with Gap represents Wests’ greatest advance in consumer fashion, but not the first. When its high-profile collaboration with Adidas became popular, dramatically increasing Adidas’ ability to compete with Nike,West changed production to make the brand’s sneakers more readily available. In 2018, after several years of release of the Yeezy models in batches of just a few thousand – the first Yeezy Boost shoe had produced only 9,000 pairs – the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 was launched in a quantity that would have exceeded one million pairs.

While many average consumers praised the ease of obtaining a pair of Yeezys, which normally entered the resale market at over $ 1,000, some members of the sneakerhead community predicted that this would mark the end of the Yeezys as that very fashionable sneaker. The culture of the sneaker rests so much on exclusivity that the fact that West and Adidas released a popular shoe that sold well was considered a bad thing for the long-term hype of the brand.

“When Adidas and Yeezy over-supplied the market, it really crushed Yeezy’s re-market,” said Josh Luber, co-founder of StockX. “Before, it was foolish to get Yeezys for less than $ 1,000. When they restocked like that, it was bad for the resale market. “

But making Yeezys accessible didn’t kill the brand – in fact, Yeezy exploded in popularity. In 2019, the line sold over $ 1.3 billion value of shoes, an increase of more than 50% over the previous year.

“Kanye has already refuted the idea that exclusivity is the only way to create demand among young consumers,” said Krista Corrigan, retail analyst at Edited. “While the hype and culture of the fall still occupy a place on today’s streetwear scene, West has proven through its partnership with Adidas that democratic ideals and attainable retail prices can still elevate a brand. to new heights. Kanye certainly has a track record for challenging industry standards. “

But while West has managed to follow the non-cool path in his decisions before, choosing Gap as a partner may be a bit too much a opposite choice. The mall brand has experienced challenges in recent years. Sales fell 10% all last year due to inventory problems and poor pedestrian traffic, which led Gap to cancel plans to relocate Old Navy to a separate company. These problems were made worse this year by the coronavirus pandemic which led the brand to 43% drop in sales, losing almost a billion dollars.

West might be what Gap needs to help its struggling brand image, but the Yeezy brand also runs the opposite risk – that Gaps’ poor performance last year will lead to the name of Yeezys. But it is not only Gap who has everything to gain from the partnership. West will also have access to “Gaps’ extensive distribution network in the United States,” said Corrigan. Gap has 3,300 stores in 90 countries.

“Gap makes the perfect vehicle for West to develop its Yeezy brand,” said Corrigan. “The gaps are struggling to increase store sales and establish a strong identity with its consumer, which puts the brand on the market for a partnership that will pay dividends down the road.” With its high base offering and its massive existing store base, Kanye recognizes the potential of such collaboration. “

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