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Gap Bets It All on Yeezy

This week, everyone will be talking about Gap’s earnings (and any clues about its upcoming Yeezy line), the return of vacation travel and hopes for a rebound in makeup sales.
Models pose during Kanye West Yeezy Season 3 in February 2016 in New York City. Getty Images.
Models pose during Kanye West Yeezy Season 3 in February 2016 in New York City. Getty Images.


  • Gap Inc. releases quarterly results on May 27
  • The company has said its flagship brand’s Yeezy line is on track to launch by the end of June
  • Gap is counting on its Kanye West partnership to revive sagging sales

This may be the week we finally get some details on one of the biggest experiments in mass retail. Gap has said little about its partnership with Kanye West since announcing the deal nearly a year ago (West, of course, has had plenty to say, though little about the clothes themselves). Gap desperately needs this collaboration to succeed. It’s closed stores, sold brands and cut costs, but that alone won’t begin to reverse two decades of declining sales and fading cultural relevance.

Yeezy is a big, big swing at putting Gap back in the fashion conversation, and the company hasn’t been coy about the line’s importance to the brand’s future. The company expects revenue from the line to top $150 million in 2022, its first full year, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. That projection is, if anything, conservative: Adidas sold $1.7 billion in Yeezy sneakers last year, according to Bloomberg. The difference is that Adidas is one of two brands securely atop the sneaker marketplace. But the basics category grows more crowded by the day and Gap isn’t the only struggling mall brand pinning its future on a high-profile designer.

The Bottom Line: The real question is whether the Yeezy halo will carry over to the rest of the brand and if West’s fans will even notice there are other clothes for sale (that is, if they ever even set foot in one of Gap’s hundreds of stores).


  • The European Union last week agreed to allow in vaccinated foreign visitors
  • Vacation travel is expected to surge this summer as vaccination rates rise
  • Duty-free sales, a major source of revenue for luxury fashion and cosmetics brands, remain down sharply

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in the US. And while there likely won’t be quite as much bumper-to-bumper traffic in Manhattan as commuters flee en masse to the beach, travel is due for a major rebound. For luxury fashion brands, which depend on hordes of free-spending vacationers to justify expensive real estate in airports and on touristy thoroughfares, the lifting of international travel restrictions can’t come soon enough.

The landscape may have permanently changed, however. Chinese tourists, already increasingly predisposed to shop at home before the pandemic, may never return to shops in Paris or New York in their pre-Covid numbers. And many brands have reoriented their retail networks around where their customers are, with pandemic pop-ups in the Hamptons and European resort towns turning into permanent establishments.

The Bottom Line: Tourist spending is the missing piece of luxury’s recovery, and this summer has the potential to upend the narrative about which brands emerged from the pandemic unscathed.


  • Colour cosmetics sales have sagged over the last two years, but some in the industry are hoping for a post-pandemic revival
  • Ulta Beauty and E.l.f. Cosmetics report quarterly results this week
  • Earlier this month, Estée Lauder reported makeup sales fell 11 percent in its latest quarter from a year earlier

Dressing up is back. Could lipstick and eyeshadow be next? Colour cosmetics have had a rough ride of late, with the pandemic accelerating a trend toward “no-makeup” looks and a shift in consumer spending toward skin care. There’s reason to expect at least a partial rebound; predictions that people would happily wear their Covid-era sweatpants out into the world this summer proved overly pessimistic.

But it’s perhaps overly optimistic to assume a return to the happy days of early 2019, when Euphoria’s wild looks kicked off trends. For starters, the skin care boom shows no sign of slowing, and while not every dollar spent on moisturiser comes at the expense of mascara, it’s not totally uncorrelated. Fashion also hasn’t entirely shaken off pandemic-era trends; while there’s plenty of demand for going-out clothes, elastic waistbands and comfortable shoes remain big sellers. It’s not hard to imagine the same being true for cosmetics, with consumers finding a happy medium between the no-makeup and full-face looks. Of course, there’s always season two of Euphoria to rescue the industry.

The Bottom Line: While some brands are leaning into an anticipated post-pandemic makeup boom, others are giving in to the current trend toward skin care.

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