It is not enough that Yeezy Gap sells their merchandise in bags thought to be bins. Kanye West added more to the heap when he said he was inspired by “the homeless”
Fashion has a thing for receptacles that typically house the discarded or the unwanted. Or, to be laundered. Kanye West proved the point when he had the Yeezy Gap merchandise—Engineered by Balenciaga—sold in bulk bags that for most shoppers appeared to be bins. Or, for the more forgiving ones, “Frakta bags” (not to be confused with Balenciaga’s fancy “trash bags”). After our visit to the pop-up in the Gap store in Times Square last month and the shock that gripped us when we saw the way the clothes were displayed and sold, Netizens, too, began expressing their horror at how the garments were peddled. It culminated in one Twitter dismay: “This is how they are selling Yeezy GAP. The sales associate said Ye got mad when he saw they had it on hangers and this is how he wanted it. They won’t help you find ur size too, you just have to just dig through everything.”
This comment did not take into consideration the dumpsters that were used in other sales venues. Three days after the New York launch, Yeezy Gap was available in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Outdoor sites were selected. A convoy of what looked like armoured vehicles worthy of Gotham City was seen approaching an unoccupied roof-top carpark. Moments later, a line of dumpsters took the centre of the space. In time, shoppers were seen dashing forward—but not dashingly, and some digging so deeply into the massive bins, they appeared to be plunging into them. There did not seem to be an advantage in selling clothes that way, nor—for the shopper—an experience that, while unforgettable, would be enjoyable. It seems rather ironic that, while the clothes have been described as “elevated basics”, there was nothing exceptionally lofty about the encounter with them in either bag or bin.
Mr West attempted to explain his way of selling in a recent interview with Donald Trump’s once-loved television station Fox News. When Eric Shawn of the station posed to him, “you understand some people felt that putting clothes in bags is insensitive, perhaps, to homeless and other people”, he replied, “look man, I’m an innovator and I’m not about to sit up here and apologise about my ideas”. Apart from not apologising for anything, Mr West has a tendency to blame the media for how his creative outputs are perceived. He added, “That’s exactly what the media tries to do. Make us apologise for any idea that doesn’t fall under exactly the way they want us to think.” It is not known why Mr West thought that an apology was desired, rather than an explanation for a visual merchandising choice that is uncommon, if not unattractive. Or did he think that his now-deleted Instagram post with text-in-place-of-visual that read, “Look to the children/Look to the homeless as the biggest inspiration for all design”, is not provocative and deserving of an expression of regret or remorse?
Whatever storage/display units Mr West employed, it is likely that he cared about stories and was trying to tell one, even if the narrative has backfired. While there is some theatricality in his retail approach, the drama is not immediately discernible. Was this a visual thesis to refute the appeal or value of Marie Kondo neatness. Or an underscoring of the believe that messiness is conducive to creativity? Or, was this the deliberate opposite of the ‘beauty bias’? When inside the relatively dim space of the Time Square pop-up, we sensed that much consideration was given to coolness above all else. Even the shopper experience took a back seat. Let them do the work, let them dig, let them toil. Shoppers in action fits the tableau. Desperate, daunting, daft. Fashion has gone to the dumps. You can’t say that Kanye West the innovator did not think out the bag.
File photo: HL See for SOTD