“This is Sparta, Ye says at the jump. Whatever the occasion of the meeting, Ye, in a tone that alternates between gruff and uplifting, like a quarterback pumping up his football team to glory, uses it to lay out the vision for his grand, populist fashion project.
Ye’s dream of democratizing fashion, which he has been chasing for almost a decade, seems more rock solid than ever. As he says at the top of the video, which has been edited to splice together several monologues, “This is not celebrity marketing, this is not a collaboration, this is a life mission.” Ye then delivers an elevator pitch. The goal, he suggests, is to make clothes “that can hit that Old Navy price with the cut.” By cut, Ye probably means Yeezy Gap’s slouchy, enveloping aesthetic. Later he is more explicit: “How do we get it [this T-shirt]… for $20? How do we go Costco, how do we go Old Navy prices?
He goes on to suggest that to get there he’ll have to do something more radical than getting retail clothing off the racks: “We do TV commercials, we open those stores, and we look at those stores, and we go through these racks and we look at the product, whatever, and put it Other things crap in the socket. And put Ye’s crap in the front.” This, of course, prompts some nervous laughter from the Gap executives. “Through every single Gap store,” Ye continues. “And let’s take the JCPenney stores while we’re at it!” (JCPenney, unlike Old Navy, is not owned by Gap.)
Throughout the video, Ye cites his own bankability when it comes to moving product — his unique ability to bring “energy” to a brand. He claims to have sold $7 million worth of merch when he performed Donna at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium last summer. (“And here we’re limited to 50,000 seats—maybe we could go to 70,000 seats,” he adds.) Ye goes on to say that he brought over three million emails from Adidas, possibly referring to the Adidas Yeezy- the mailing list. And in line with an earlier Instagrammed statement directed at Martin, Ye says they sold 14 million black Yeezy Gap Hoodiesto $80, after playing a “Life of the Party” soundtrack commercial for the clothes in May. (Previously, Ye said they sold $14 million of hoodies, not 14 million units.)
There is something for everyone in the video. Fashion geeks can read Ye’s dismay that he wasn’t up for the surprise collaboration between Adidas and Balenciaga, two of his main collaborators outside of the Gap, before it was revealed at the Balenciaga show in May: “I’m sitting next to Anna Wintour and [Balenciaga CEO] Cédric [Charbit] seeing an Adidas collaboration I knew nothing about. It’s crazy!” Financial analysts can read into his threat to turn his back on Gap: “You really have to give me the position Yes and do what I think or I’ll have to do what I think somewhere else.” Ye superfans can read into his distress that Yeezy Gap has yet to do a fashion show: “We’ve never done a fashion show. It’s crazy!” And anyone can try to imagine what Ye’s alleged, apparently undercover trips to factories must be like: “I’m there in factories without heat. I there is no security, no heat, no gold watch, no chains, learning, how do we get this to the high schools?”
Ye ends his pep talk on an inspiring note, and the leaders, whose moods seem to alternate between worried, confused and anxious, seem to relax. “This is our football team,” Ye says, before comparing himself to Tom Brady. The video then cuts to the group clapping for what they might have assumed was an achievement – just Ye being Ye. But Ye seems dead serious. “Stop clapping!” he says, raising his voice and hands. “You will either give me the position” – probably the position for Yes and do what he thinks, as he says — “or I quit.”
The Gap team may not know exactly what to make of their Tom Brady, but Ye knows exactly what he wants. In a since-deleted follow-up post, Ye calls on his followers to help him open Yeezy stores worldwide — independently. “I’m going to show you,” he wrote, “how to use social media.”