Following the announcement of Kanye West‘s YEEZY Gap partnership to kick off #WESTDAYEVER, some fashion industry insiders began raising questions about the Gap’s previously reported collaboration with Telfar.
YEEZY’s Gap partnership, which sees Nigerian-British designer Mowalola Ogunlesi appointed the official design director, is centered around Kanye’s reverence for the fashion purveyor’s democratic approach to fashion design. This can be traced back to his time working at one of Gap’s stores as a teenager in Chicago. As the price point and quantity of YEEZY clothing is relatively high and exclusive, the partnership is expected to bring the rapper, songwriter, record producer, composer, entrepreneur and fashion designer’s offerings to a larger audience in the same way that consistent YEEZY sneaker drops have allowed more fans to purchase West’s footwear designs.
But as news of the high-profile partnership made waves, many began to wonder about Gap‘s Fall/Winter 2020 collaboration with designer Telfar Clemens, which had been promoted by Gap itself in January during Paris Fashion Week. In the subsequent months, however, the outbreak of Coronavirus shuttered most of Gap’s retail locations. This fractured a large portion of the company’s sales — derived through brick and mortar customer experience — and reportedly forced the retailer to cancel its orders with suppliers for summer and fall deliveries. Telfar’s collaboration was “indefinitely postponed.”.
According to Diet Prada, Gap sent an email to Telfar in March noting that the team-up would need to be pushed to 2021 with contracts adjusted to reflect the change. In a follow-up, Telfar was offered 25 percent of the design fee as an advance for work completed but the designer’s inquiries regarding payment status went unanswered.
HYPEBEAST reached out to a source close to Telfar, who confirmed that Gap entirely ceased communication in mid-March. Furthermore, the payment for the partnership and partial payment that Gap has never materialized and the source confirmed that the Telfar team was entirely in the dark about the YEEZY x Gap partnership.
A representative for Gap’s press agency has declined to comment on the matter, HYPEBEAST has also reached to the Gap.
The surprise YEEZY announcement has since caused a 42-percent Gap stock surge.
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Gap announced big news today— they’re bring Kanye West onboard. A 10-year deal starts this month, with YZY GAP merchandise expected to hit stores next year. West has long been a fan of the Gap’s democratic approach to design, having worked in their stores as a teenager. Most of Yeezy’s current price points are prohibitive for many consumers, but partnering with GAP would change that. Theoretically, a retailer with such a large scope is partnering with a Black designer in such a meaningful way sounds great… until you remember Gap already did that. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @gap x @telfarglobal was announced back in January, with deliveries scheduled for later in the year. Telfar Clemen’s unisex label, founded in NYC in 2005, has “it’s not for you— it’s for everyone” as part of their brand bio– it could pass for a slogan from Gap’s heyday. Clemens has said he’s “obsessed” with Gap and the partnership came naturally, both sharing a goal to clothe the masses. There was a ton of buzz, many excited to see the mall favorite revived. Then COVID hit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Like many retailers, Gap has struggled to keep up with the changing demands of consumers. They still rely on brick and mortar stores for a large portion of their sales, most of which were closed in the pandemic. They had 2019 worldwide sales of $16 billion, yet in April cancelled all of their supplier orders for upcoming summer and fall store deliveries, which would have included Telfar’s rollout. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In a March 18 email, Gap told Telfar that the collab was being pushed to 2021, and contracts readjusted accordingly. Two days later, they offered 25% of the design fee as an advance for work completed prior to the postponement, but that was the last reply. Follow up e-mails from Telfar regarding payment status remain unanswered. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Gap is on WRC’s recent list of brands that won’t commit to pay suppliers for COVID-cancelled work. Factories are likely sitting on raw materials and no orders, garment workers without pay. Gap’s image has historically been more inclusive than many mass retailers, but they seem to have trouble putting their money where their mouth is. In fact, where’d they get the money for Ye? • #gap #telfar