Unless you pay zero attention to retail news, you heard about Kanye’s announced 10-year partnership with Gap to introduce a new line of modern basics for men, women, and children for under $100/piece. Try to forget what you know, because I think that Yeezy Gap will revolutionize the Gap as we know it. Investors seem pretty confident, too.
The first thought that comes to mind is that this will cheapen the Yeezy brand. Anyone with a business-oriented mindset could make that argument, however, I don’t think that Kanye West is concerned about it. Everything that Kanye does is unpredictable yet beyond influential, and it would be silly to think that Kanye would keep the Yeezy brand a stagnant one that refuses to budge in fear of it being “cheapened.” While Kanye West is synonymous with Yeezy, he is a creative visionary that is always proposing new ideas that could influence his brand and the entire world of retail. Keep in mind that Yeezy is not Chanel.
Kanye has wanted to collaborate with Gap for years, and, as a person that is known to stick to his word, he is finally pulling through. He’s been known to say that he wants to make clothes for the masses under the Yeezy label, and what better way to do so than to work with Gap?
If I had to take a guess, I’d say that Kanye’s followers are primarily the younger millenials and the older Gen Z’ers. The Gap, however, is undeniably irrelevant for this group. Yeezy Gap has the potential to bring a massive group of consumers with prominent spending power that might just bring Gap back to life.
“Modern, elevated basics.” – Fashionista
A phrase we’ve heard so many times in the past few years that it is now just plain boring. Most Yeezy products could fit in this product description, yet they are anything but boring. They are highly sought after and have been exclusive in both price and availability throughout the history of the brand. With Yeezy Gap planning on all products being less than $100, this will bring in all of his followers who could not afford the regular Yeezy products.
I don’t believe that the Yeezy Gap line will cheapen the original Yeezy brand. There will probably be the same amount of hype and demand around each Yeezy season, and loyal Yeezy customers will probably still pay the full price. I think of JW Anderson’s collabs with Uniqlo that are wildly successful yet have not taken anything away from the JW Anderson brand, and Kanye has a much different level of following and influence.
If anything, Yeezy for the masses brings Kanye deeper into our culture and deeper into our households.
Some things that need to happen for this to be successful:
- The products need to find a balance between the Yeezy aesthetic and what we know of Gap. Because of Kanye’s hype, these products will most likely draw in those that follow Kanye. What will make this work will be if someone who has no idea what Yeezy is will like the products, too. The line can’t be too abstract compared to Gap’s current lines because Gap needs to maintain its loyal customers while trying to bring in new ones.
- There has to still be a level of exclusivity. When the line drops, it obviously won’t work with Gap’s business model for the line to sell out immediately and then never be restocked, as Yeezy often does. At the same time, the products have to seem exclusive so that they are still on-brand for Yeezy. My thoughts on this are that Yeezy Gap should start with a small initial “drop,” with preparations in place to quickly restock and scheduled launches with other items from the line that happen frequently.
- An AGRESSIVE social media campaign. Man, does Gap’s social need some help to bring in anyone younger than 45. Kanye is already breaking the internet with one twitter post hinting at the partnership. Please, give me a cool social media campaign leading up to the launch of this collection. Let Kanye lead the way with a gentle guidance in appealing to the current Gap customers. Even better, based on the products that are planning to be made, shoot it out at his ranch in Wyoming. I need something new and exciting from Gap and anything Kanye in Wyoming is more exciting than their current social presence.
Kanye has been doing the unexpected for a long time, and doing it well. What Gap needs is something unexpected, and this is about as big as they could go, working with someone who has always wanted to work with them.
Featured image from Fashionista.com