This week, Business of Fashion reported that the Kanye West Yeezy x GAP hoodies had become the most traded item in the notorious secondary markets. According to BoF, the listings of the hoodie on resale website StockX was hitting the kind of mark ups normally reserved for rare sneaker collaborations, 50 percent over retail.
There’s no other way to put it. Consumers have been hoodwinked.
When GAP confirmed that they would be collaborating with Yeezy back in 2020, there were a slew of think pieces and op-eds guessing whether Kanye West would bring the American brand back from the edge of mediocrity – the equivalent of oblivion in fashion.
From his perspective, The Artist Formerly Known As Kanye Now Called Ye wanted to collaborate with the high street brand to make his own designs more readily available to a broader audience via a far lower price point than his main Yeezy line with the aim to keep the clothing line below US$100.
Then the stunts started.
Shortly after the announcement, Gap deleted their entire Instagram back catalogue and even changed their handle to YZY with the only photo a preview of the first item to come from the collaboration – an electric blue puffer jacket priced at US$200. Not quite under the $100 as mentioned.
But the hoodies have been the golden ticket. A US$90 piece of merchandise so simple it is practically indistinguishable from any other hoodie on the market.
Here’s one from Kmart.
Have the Hypebeast bros finally lost the plot?
Maybe. And I would guess that’s exactly what the marketing teams and execs and VPs wanted to happen.
For all his flaws or faults, Kanye/Ye is a master marketer. From the performative behaviour that drums up endless media attention to his music which is genuinely (generally) brilliant – it’s all a curated delivery that acutely sucks in an audience.
The deletion of a company’s Instagram was sociopathic in its brilliance. The risk of alienating a core audience for the sake of a cult following is a bold move, I don’t care how confident you are.
Rather than simply going for volume, GAP is obviously aiming for the clout market in an attempt to make themselves relevant again to a new generation of consumers.
It’s not a new strategy, mind you. Both GAP and Ye are following in the steps of some of the greatest artists of the modern era – Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí – who saw the manipulation of the market as much a part of the experience of art as the artwork itself.
When people throw three times the retail price at a resale black hoodie, they’re not buying a hoodie. They’re buying an entire performance. Think of it as a wearable NFT – the most everyday object is now suddenly a coveted valuable purely because of cultural perception.
Break it down to the bare bones, and the collaboration of Ye and GAP is about as exciting as some trackies and a jumper – because that’s what it is.
Ye and GAP have played us like a harp and honestly, slow clap.