There’s a hooded figure headed your way wearing black leather clothing from head to toe. You feel a little intimidated — until you make out the letters G-A-P.
Now you’re just confused. Only in a parallel universe would “Gap” and “gothic” be used to refer to the same outfit. That is, unless Kanye West and Balenciaga were involved.
Here’s the backstory: Kanye became obsessed with Gap when he was a young teen working in one of their retail stores. He credited Gap for his interest in fashion, which inspired him to launch the streetwear brand YEEZY.
In 2020, Kanye’s dream of partnering with Gap finally came true. YEEZY GAP has since made highly-coveted streetwear pieces that combine Gap’s all-american style with Kanye’s utilitarian flare.
But YEEZY GAP Engineered by Balenciaga is unlike any Kanye creation we’ve ever seen. This apocalyptic collection of hoodies, leather pants, and broad shoulder jackets comes in every shade of black you can imagine. If that wasn’t edgy enough, the collection was modeled by faceless figures that look just like the ones from your nightmares.
Part of what makes this collaboration so fascinating is that it’s entirely unclear who it's for. These pieces don’t exactly qualify as luxury or streetwear, but you also can’t imagine them being worn to buy groceries or take the dog around the block.
And yet, it works because it makes a statement. By associating Gap with menacing styles, Kanye makes people wonder why they wear the clothing they do, and why it all matters in the first place.
But Kanye’s vision couldn’t have been realized without Balenciaga. Their dramatic silhouettes create the intimidation factor that, when paired with “GAP,” makes people stop in their tracks. Plus, partnering with Balenciaga is like getting a seal of authenticity — this luxury label can turn any hoodie into aspirational art.
Needless to say, it worked. People waited for hours to dig through trash bags (yes, trash bags) to get their hands on these pieces. That’s the level of excitement that can only be achieved when brands play together.