The next phase in the Ye-ification of Gap is here.
Starting today, Ye (the artist formerly known as Kanye West) will roll out his vision of brick and mortar retail, with Yeezy Gap products and a startlingly minimalist reimagining of the store.
This will mark the first time that Yeezy Gap products, which include T-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, cargo pants, and hats, will be available for purchase in store, in person. (Previously, the products have been available for pre-order online at YEEZYGAP.COM, with several pieces available for immediate purchase as well.) A selection of the pieces Ye created with Balenciaga creative director Demna will be available as well. The products will be available starting at 10 am in the Times Square store, and in select Gap stores throughout the United States “soon,” per a press release.
The store has been Ye-ified, too: “Gap’s Times Square flagship store has been reengineered and distilled to its most essential form in Yeezy Gap Engineered By Balenciaga’s vision of utilitarian design,” states the press release. Clothing racks, signage, shelving, and even hangers have been eliminated from the space. A video released this evening on the brand's newly launched Instagram account, @yeezy, shares more.
The Times Square Gap store is perhaps the brand’s most iconic—in the middle of the world’s most chaotic expression of American mass culture and taste—and as the city’s nexus of tourism and transit, it provides an ideal template for Ye’s ambition to dress the world. (The shop also gained some notoriety in 2000 when a New York Observer story revealed that twenty-somethings would sometimes buy a “morning after outfit” there on the way into work if they had spent the night at a lover’s apartment, since the location opened at 9 am.)
Brick and mortar has long been a dream of Ye’s. Prior to his partnership with The Gap, he worked with creative director Nick Knight to design an experimental online shopping site for Yeezy, and spoke at length to Vanity Fair in 2015 about physical retail as a goal of his. (Page Six reported last week that Ye recently filed trademarks for retail stores for his own brand, Yeezy, which suggests he may be working on physical retail there, as well. Currently, the site is set to a mysterious countdown clock, ticking down to a little over four days from now.) He is an avid shopper himself. Paparazzi have frequently snapped the designer and musician in Balenciaga’s retail spaces around the United States, shutting down the store to shop for hours at a time. He is also a regular at Dover Street Market.
Renderings of the Gap space suggest he seems to see shopping as a kind of religious experience. Much as his listening parties for Donda last summer were explorations of forgiveness and redemption, with Ye even raised to the heavens at the end of the Atlanta show, the “reengineered” Gap store very much resembles a temple, stripped to its primordial architectural elements. The clothes themselves are like understated talismans for fashion believers far beyond the reach available to high-end designers. Come Thursday morning, he will at last be able to embrace the shopping faithful.