Telfar’s collaboration with Gap is officially cancelled

Update: Telfar has spoken to the New York Times about the axed collaboration

Earlier this week (June 26) Kanye West announced a huge new partnership with Gap, which will span a number of years and features rising designer Mowalola in the role of design director. 

With the announcement, however, came news that another, earlier Gap collab – with the Queens-born designer Telfar – appeared to have slipped through the cracks, after being “indefinitely postponed” due to coronavirus lockdowns and store closures, as explained in Business of Fashion’s profile of Telfar April 7.

The collaboration, announced January 16, would have made Telfar’s already-reasonable prices (see: the ubiquitous Shopping Bag, which starts at $150) even more accessible for fans of the label. 

“It doesn’t take value away because our brand is not about scarcity or wealth or envy,” founder and designer Telfar Clemens told Dazed back in January, after the Gap partnership was announced. “We are actually a new type of brand.”

However, since the Yeezy Gap news was made public, people were questioning where the postponed Telfar collaboration was at, with reports that the brand hadn’t received any payment, despite Gap possessing initial samples from the collection and hosting a launch party at Paris Fashion Week in January.

In the latest update, June 27, Gap confirmed to Business of Fashion that the collaboration will not be going ahead, although they have assured that they will pay Telfar.

“While we’ve chosen not to move forward with the Gap x Telfar partnership at this time,” Gap says, in a statement, “we’re making whole on our payment regardless and have only respect and appreciation for Telfar’s time and vision.”

Revisit Telfar’s AW20 show below.

Update 2 July: Speaking to the New York Times, Telfar has said he is “glad to be free” of the partnership, which he described as symptomatic of “a vast power imbalance, perpetuated by the narrative of ‘inclusivity’” between establishment brands and independent designers of colour. 

“It has been part of our survival to become content for a bigger brand so they can make a statement about their racial solidarity. But the real problem is the initial situation that blocks a designer’s progress so they need to say ‘yes’ to such a thing,” added creative director Babak Radboy.