Can Telfar Clemens Kanye West save Gap?

Written by Adam Bryce

Amidst the announced union of American pop culture royalty, fashion media ask — will Mr West save Gap? We’re curious too but not just about that.

gap kayne west yeezy
There is no denying Kanye West’s ability to identify talent, his ambition for greatness and unstoppable persistence. The musician-cum-fashion tycoon hasn’t always found the transition a smooth run but the man has proven, time and time again, he ain’t letting go. Similar to another like-minded American leader (I think we all know who I mean), Mr West’s best skill is self-promotion with the uncanny ability to focus on his success and ignore his failures.

The Facts.

We’re mostly all glaringly aware of the Yeezy, the sneaker collaboration with adidas which high-jumped West’s bank account into another stratosphere. However, this moment of genius hasn’t come without its missteps. Chronicling the popularity of the adidas x Yeezy line, we’ve been subject to around 10 or so shoe variations over the years, but only three have struck sneaker ‘gold’ status. With, perhaps, the majority of sales coming from the success of one model — the ‘350’.

West’s clothing line, on the other hand, designed by the same team that brought about mainstream sneaker glory — not so successful. Marketed as a range of utilitarian, high-quality staples but priced at a point that doesn’t gel with the garment basics schtick, the collections have never sold particularly well. And, we’ve seen mention of inconsistencies in the production, universal release timings and promotional strategies.

The Unknowns.

Clearly, Wests success, thus far, within the fashion industry has been questionable. Even with help from the undeniably talented Virgil Abloh, Matthew Williams and more.

Which leads us to the question, can Gap afford to the take the assumingly expensive risk of striking a deal with someone who, to date, could be classified as a one-hit wonder? Lets grab the popcorn and watch how it plays out.

The Facts.

Gap, the seemingly all-American good guys, are currently being sued by high-profile mall landlord, Brookfield, for over US$2 million in unpaid rent. Which, in all fairness, may seem like pocket change to a 51-year-old fashion institution but, when added to the US$65.9 million owned to another mall mogul, Simon Property Group plus another landlord lawsuit, doubts are creeping in and you’ve got to wonder — what the fuck are they up to? And how are they justifying the 10-year deal spend with West?

Next up, on our WTF radar, is the ‘Telfar issue. Earlier this year, despite serious question marks around Gaps financial standings, they announced an upcoming collaboration with Americas next great fashion hope, Telfar Clemens. Accompanied by a show-and-tell of samples that had the fashion world buzzing in anticipation, Gaps public statement seemed like an excellent band-aid attempt at a monetary quick fix.

After an initial delay, the collaboration was, then, postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Rumours were rife of Gaps purported fold but, against all unexpected odds, we began to see the re-opening of their store doors.

With Gap trading once more, a source claims Telfar hasnt received any payment for the pre-pandemic preparation work provided nor been Gap-offered postponement fee.

The Unknowns.

The incomplete end to the Gap x Telfar debacle raises many questions. Is there a chance the collaboration may still happen? Or will Telfar and his team be paid for their pre-pandemic work? Wheres the integrity behind their seemingly brush-it-under-the-rug tactics and hey-presto-we-have-a-new-collaboration announcement?

The Facts.

Among the exciting West-tapped design director appointment news of British-Nigerian designer, Mowalola Ogunlesi, were here to see how the Yeezy Gap years unfold. Set to launch in 2021, the new collaboration will include mens, womens and kids collection with Gap predicting a US$1 billion annual sales boost thanks to Mr West.

Interestingly, in less than 24 hours since Gap’s second collaboration announcement of the year, their stock price increased more than US$1 billion to Gap’s market capitalisation, raising it to around US$4.8 billion.

And West has, for some time, been unabashedly vocal about his desire to bring his designs to the masses and was once quoted on, that he would like to be the “Steve Jobs of Gap” and craved “full Hedi Slimane creative control of [the] Gap.”

So, here, kind of, is his chance. Persistence pays off, huh?

telfar gap

Telfar Clemens at the media launch
of his now-cancelled Gap collaboration.

Mowalola Ogunlesi kanye west

Kanye West and his famous family
wear custom-made clothing by his new
design director, Mowalola Ogunlesi.

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