There's a new face of luxury as Balenciaga and Kanye West collaborate for Yeezy Gap

There’s a new face of luxury as Balenciaga and Kanye West collaborate for Yeezy Gap

The metaverse is abuzz with news that the irrepressible Kanye West and his BFF Demna Gvasalia, the super hot creative director of Balenciaga, are combining their prodigious creative juices to create a collection for Gap, the ubiquitous and beleaguered mass retailer.

Titled Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga, no product has been announced but regardless, the first items will drop in June, assuming Omicron and supply chain issues don’t get in the way.

Unlike so many other luxury house collaborations that release under the luxury brand’s umbrella, Balenciaga hands the reins to Gap to drive the collection forward.

It’s a bold move for a fashion house whose t-shirts sell for over $500 and hoodies for over $750. But Balenciaga, under CEO Cédric Charbit, has transformed the 102-year-old luxury brand for the 21st century.

Together, Charbit and Demna, as the Russian-born Gvasalia prefers to be called, challenge the luxury status quo with cutting-edge fashions tailored to next-generation consumers.

To that end, Balenciaga was one of the first luxury brands to enter the metaverse by releasing cybernetic fashion for Fortnite video gamers, then collaborating with the company for a real-world Balenciaga x Fortnite collection.

Early success led Charbit to venture into the metaverse, forming an entire business unit dedicated to it.

Demna brings an outside perspective to the world of insider luxury. In 2014, he spearheaded the launch of Vetements, a counterculture brand that directly challenged the conventions of the luxury market.

Speaking of Vetements, Demna told SSense, an online retailer that sold the brand, “We share very strong beliefs about the industry, about things we don’t want to be a part of. We don’t want to be part of a fashion idea that talks about glamor and something inaccessible or super exclusive.

But Demna was able to manage two conflicting ideas at once and in 2015 he joined Balenciaga. He juggled both brands until 2019 when he moved away from Vetements.

It was during Demna’s Vetement and his Balenciaga debut that he met like-minded Kanye West, now called Ye. They took their creative partnership to the next level in August 2021 when Demna acted as creative director for the Donda de Ye album listening event held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

And now they’re taking their partnership to the next level with the new Gap collaboration.

Ye signed a ten-year creative deal with Gap in 2020 which became Yeezy Gap. So far, only two items have been released under this label, including a Yeezy Gap hoodie that Gap says has generated the highest single-day sales for a single item in its history. And more importantly for the brand, about 70% of those customers were new to Gap.

Hoping to strike the iron twice, Yeezy Gap has just announced the re-release of Ye’s signature hoodie, available in black and blue colourways and in adult and kids sizes, with shipping within four to eight weeks of ordering. The hoodie was featured in Yeezy Gap’s first TV commercial during ESPN’s College Football Championship on Jan. 10, along with Ye’s “Heaven and Hell” music video.

As for what’s to come in the collaboration, the pair share a “power for the people” sensibility that Gap Inc. says will continue to deliver Ye’s “vision of utilitarian design for all.”

Gap needs all the help it can get. In its most recent third quarter ended Oct. 30, the Gap brand’s $1 billion global sales were eclipsed by little sister Old Navy at $2.1 billion. In the United States, there is even more distance between the two, $676 million for Gap versus $1,899 million for Old Navy.

Compared to 2019, Old Navy’s third-quarter sales were up 8%, while Gap’s were down 10%. Both brands were dogged by supply chain issues throughout the year, with indications noting that the entire company, including the Banana Republic and Athleta brands, lost $550-650 million. dollars in sales because of it and also added some $450 million in additional air freight charges.

It’s still early days, but the ingredients for a Gap turnaround are beginning to appear. As the brand continues to scale its store fleet globally, comparable sales in the quarter increased 3% from 2019. And in North America, where it has closed nearly 190 stores since the third quarter 2019, comparable sales increased by 13% compared to the same period. quarter 2019.

Gap has nothing to lose and everything to gain with the launch of Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga. Ye, too, as its pace of launching new Yeezy Gap may be a bit slow for CEO Sonia Syngal’s expectations.

As for Balenciaga, it’s totally unexpected for a luxury brand to leave its perch and enter the mass market, which is why this collaboration is so noteworthy.

It could be a brand builder for the next generation of Balenciaga customers or it could potentially alienate its current customers. However, I believe its current customers will applaud the brand’s openness to giving everyday men and women a taste of luxury in this new world transformed by the Covid pandemic.

Note: This story has been updated with information about the first advertisement aired by Yeezy Gap.

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