Home Luxury brand Yeezy Gap/Balenciaga is here. Is it worth it?

Yeezy Gap/Balenciaga is here. Is it worth it?


There were disruptions from the start. Major news fell unexpectedly, like a challenge, right at the feet of the fashion establishment at the start of Milan Fashion Week.

The Balenciaga-designed Yeezy Gap project, the highly publicized and heavily named joint collection of the artist formerly known as Kanye West (now just Ye) and the designer formerly known as Demna Gvasalia (now just Demna) was unveiled, three months in advance of the schedule, in the form of 25 photos of complete looks, with eight pieces available immediately for pre-order.

In the images, the aesthetic was big, dark, vaguely military, like the uniforms of a post-apocalyptic world. Mostly all black, in what looked like nylon or crinkle leather (or faux leather) with a bit of faded blue denim. There were leather thigh high boots and chunky wellies, a cool short sleeve sweatshirt available to buy now are the most basic garments in the line: straight cut jeans, a matching denim jacket , faded black t-shirts, a placket pocket sweatshirt. The faces, as is the case with Ye and Demna, were covered.

And it raised real and timely questions about what exactly we buy when we buy fashion.

The timing could have been a coincidence, of course. The impetus for the release was, according to the announcement, Ye’s Donda 2 live album release/experience in Miami.

Still, it’s hard to believe that neither Ye nor Demna (whose Balenciaga show is due to take place in Paris on March 6) were unaware of the other fashion events going on – especially since more than half of the collection isn’t available, and it’s unclear when that will be, and the part that won’t ship for another four to eight weeks – suggesting there was some desire to release the all at a time when collections were in the air.

Especially considering that they positioned their collab as some sort of anti-high fashion effort: “A FIRST OF ITS KIND CREATIVE EXPLORATION INTO THE YEEZY GAP UNIVERSE” (entire press release was in all caps, which seems to be kind of how Ye lives her life). He went on to note, “Ye’s commitment to putting creativity first and delivering his vision of utilitarian design for all.”

Take that, o elite fashionistas. These are real clothes that real people can use in the real world. Or at least the people who follow us obsessively on social media, where this collaboration generates the most noise, and where Ye himself goes from drama to exaggeration and philosophical reflection under the magnetic gaze of the public.

Where are they?

As with luxury fashion, which derives much of its desirability from the transience of what it represents—provenance, connoisseur, insider cool—the Yeezy Gap/Balenciaga collection (for lack of better shorthand) has been surfing. on a wave of high-pitched buzz and anticipation on the strength of the desire of the watching and listening public not to buy a faded black T-shirt, but to buy a passport to the world of Ye and Demna, for the house of limitless creative counting they share. To buy a piece of this particular cultural moment, and what they represent as artists. It just comes in the form of a T-shirt.

That’s really what they’re selling: their own visionary experience and perspective on the world. The collection is only the expression.

To some extent, this is also what all luxury brands sell. It’s just that Yeezy Gap/Balenciaga do it on a pop culture scale, supposedly at an accessible price point, and in a way that makes it particularly clear.

Because while the names themselves are hugely powerful, the clothes — at least the ones currently available — are kind of… no.

There are four t-shirts, all in faded black: one with three-quarter sleeves; one without shoulder seams, like the down jacket that was Ye’s first product for Gap; one with a tiny Gap logo; one with long sleeves; all with slightly shortened and square proportions. The hoodie has a kind of crimped bottom. There is a pair of slim sweatpants. The denim jacket, matching the faded and frayed jeans, has square shoulders, a nipped-in waist and somewhat anatomical patches that look like rubber treads.

Many coins come with a dove on the back to represent “an unnamed hope for the future,” according to the statement. Also, presumably, to give clues to those in the know about what they’re seeing, like some sort of secret visual handshake.

The clothes are more designed, in other words, than the hoodie that was Ye’s second product for Gap, and which looked a lot like a generic Champion sweatshirt, but less differentiated than the down jacket.

They are made in the same US factories as other Gap products, according to a spokesperson, and are all 100% cotton. They cost from $140 for the t-shirts to $440 for the denim jacket.

It’s affordable in the skewed haute couture economy — more affordable, no doubt, than Demna’s work at Balenciaga or Ye’s sneakers — but it’s not really “for everyone”, and it’s much more expensive than the usual cost of Gap products, where a denim jacket is now $63 (it’s also much more than the Yeezy Gap puffer, which was priced around $200).

Is it worth it?

This is a question often asked of more expensive garments – those with less presumed utility and shown on the catwalks. I was thinking about it while attending the Diesel and Fendi fashion shows, which took place in the shadow of the Yeezy Gap/Balenciaga drop.

Diesel, another brand (like Gap) that tends to market itself as “democratic,” debuted the first live show with Glenn Martens – a Belgian designer best known for his concept work with cult brand Y/Project – as creative director. According to Vogue, which also worked on Donda’s shows and decorated the room with gigantic figures posing provocatively in jeans, it took place in a cavernous set space directed by Niklas Bildstein Zaar.

The collection was as massive as inflatables, full of giant shredded jeans and tiny denim skirts that looked more like chunky belts; screen-printed bodysuits with jeans references and ribbed knits sprayed with chrome metallic colors. But it was the large grizzly bear-like coats made of reconfigured tufts of denim and the party dresses put together from odds and ends like some sort of cutting room collage, that stood out, and aside from the brand or the Creator.

This was also the case with Fendi, where Kim Jones played a clever game of hard and soft in the form of wispy ruffled pastel dresses (sometimes with halter necks and hooded backs) layered over matching streaks of bras and panties and juxtaposed against seamless, close-fitting cuts in houndstooth and tweed; bustiers and master tailor.

In both cases, the sheer tactility of the materials and the way they were manipulated – the technique, the composition – was part of the value proposition. This means that even when you strip away the convoluted stew of aspiration and hype that attaches to brands and fashion at all levels these days, there remains something concrete that can also connect to the individual identity. It is a kind of utility.

The value proposition with Yeezy Gap/Balenciaga, although it also relies on the idea of ​​”usefulness” (which in the case of Yeezy seems mostly synonymous with “basics”, which is a relative term) is very much more heavily weighted by the mystique of the men behind the curtain; to their cultural motto and ambitions, rather than the brand motto on the label or the clothes themselves.

The bet is on how much the change they’ve made is worth – and can be worth. Ultimately, this will determine whether the price of admission is a theft or a sham.