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Yeezy Gives Gap Its First Hit With Hypebeasts

Yeezy x Gap hoodies have quickly become the most traded streetwear items on resale site StockX and are fetching premiums like those seen on Yeezy sneakers. But whether Yeezy can boost Gap’s overall performance is another question.
Yeezy x Gap hoodies have quickly become the most traded streetwear items on resale site StockX. Courtesy.
Yeezy x Gap hoodies have quickly become the most traded streetwear items on resale site StockX. Courtesy.

Shoppers haven’t been this excited about Gap hoodies in years.

In late September, Gap began taking pre-orders on the second release from its line with Kanye West, a $90 hoodie made of hefty double-layered cotton with a dropped shoulder and abbreviated body. It’s also the first item from the collaboration customers would be able to get their hands on. A puffer jacket Gap made available for pre-order in June doesn’t ship until later in the year.

The hoodies have been generating a level of hype unusual for a Gap product, even as they have received mixed reviews from customers. One signal of that hype is evident in the secondary market, where sought-after items like limited-release sneakers routinely trade at a premium well above their retail price. On StockX, among the biggest resale marketplaces, the Yeezy x Gap hoodies are currently selling for roughly the same markup the site normally sees on items like West’s sneakers with Adidas.

“The hoodies as a whole are selling for around 50 percent above retail,” said Jesse Einhorn, senior economist at StockX. “That puts them in fairly rarefied company when it comes to other Yeezy releases.”

By comparison, apparel from West’s Yeezy brand averages 30 percent above retail on StockX, by Einhorn’s calculation. The Gap hoodies are selling more like Yeezy 350 sneakers, which average a 55 percent premium over retail.

Gap even appears to be leaning into the well-established tactic seen in streetwear and sneakers of keeping certain products scarce to heighten overall demand. The black hoodie has proved to be an outlier when it comes to what shoppers are willing to pay. The average sales price on StockX is about $367, according to the publicly listed sales data on the site, with the highest price paid rising to $899.

Einhorn attributed the discrepancy to the limited supply of black hoodies. Fewer than 100 have sold on the site. The greater number of blue hoodies available has allowed more than 2,000 to be bought and sold on StockX, making it the most traded colour on the site.

“This is a deliberate strategy where you generate extraordinary hype around a specific item and that has a halo effect on the rest of the products,” he said.

Gap declined to comment.

Supply and Demand

The prices of the hoodies on StockX were actually higher when they first went on sale. They dropped to their lowest point about a week ago as the hoodies went out to shoppers and have now more or less stabilized, though prices for some sizes have been climbing again. Einhorn said it’s a normal progression for a scarce item as supply finally makes it into the market and there was no discernible effect from the reviews of the hoodies shoppers were sharing online.

Supply and demand also likely explains why larger sizes such as XL and XXL have higher average resale prices. Companies try to predict how much of each size to release into the market. Often, they’ll release the most stock in the middle of the sizing range and put a limited number of very small and very large sizes into the market. In this case, though, men appear to be the main customers for the Yeezy x Gap hoodies and the disproportionate demand for the larger sizes is driving up prices.

Though it’s still too early to say since the hoodies have just started reaching customers, if current trends hold, the Yeezy x Gap hoodies could end up being among the most popular streetwear items on StockX for the entire year, despite only recently hitting the market, according to Einhorn.

To date, around 6,000 of the hoodies have sold on StockX. Every day for the past week, the blue hoodie has been the most traded streetwear item on the site.

Yeezy’s Value to Gap

The tie-up with West is part of a push by Gap to reinvigorate its flagging brand. In recent years the strongest performers in Gap Inc.’s portfolio have been Old Navy and Athleta, while Banana Republic and Gap itself have languished. In the recent quarter, global sales at the Gap brand were down 10 percent compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic caused a plunge in clothing sales.

Sonia Syngal, who took over as Gap Inc. CEO in March 2020 after years heading up Old Navy, touted the pre-order of the jacket from the Yeezy collaboration as a success during an August earnings call. “We’ve had a much younger customer,” she said. “We’ve had 75 percent of those customers being new to the Gap brand.”

One question yet to be answered, however, is how much life the Yeezy line can breathe back into the Gap brand beyond the collaboration products.

“While it was a lucrative business move for Gap, it will struggle to retain the customer that the Yeezy collaboration brings unless it redirects its focus onto a similar customer base,” Darcey Jupp, an apparel analyst at GlobalData, a research and consulting firm, told BoF in an email. That customer tends to be young, with an interest in hip-hop and streetwear.

While it was a lucrative business move for Gap, it will struggle to retain the customer that the Yeezy collaboration brings unless it redirects its focus onto a similar customer base.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the collaboration can’t have a larger effect on Gap. “We’ve seen high profile collaborations be successful for all parties involved, boosting brand recognition among a consumer base who may have not had interest in it before,” Jupp added.

Einhorn similarly pointed to the recent success of Crocs, the lumpy foam clogs once considered the footwear of chefs and other workers on their feet all day. The company has gotten a boost from a broader trend toward more casual, comfortable dress, but it has also attributed its rising profile to collaborations with fashion brands and high-profile artists such as Post Malone, Justin Bieber and Bad Bunny.

“Crocs suddenly are a top 10 footwear brand on [StockX],” Einhorn said. “This was something that just would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago.”

For now, though, Gap products outside its Yeezy line are not a hit on StockX.

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