West, 45, addressed the controversial marketing decision while speaking to Fox News correspondent Eric Shawn from Gap’s flagship store in Times Square on Thursday. During the conversation, West defended the clothing display on the basis that he is an “innovator,” while clarifying that the bags are actually “large construction bags”.
“I’m an innovator, and I’m not here to sit up and apologise about my ideas,” the rapper said. “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.”
The decision to display the clothes in large black bags rather than folded or on hangers was widely criticised on social media following a viral tweet by New York-based user Owen Lang, who claimed that a sales associate told him West “insisted” on the unconventional display.
“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,” Lang tweeted alongside a photo of the clothes stuffed into three large bags resembling garbage bags inside a Gap store.
The tweet sparked backlash, with many suggesting that West was mocking those experiencing homelessness with the marketing method.
According to Shawn, who summarised quotes from West about the display, the Yeezy designer said that it was “God’s plan” for him to correct the record on the news network, and that his intention was actually to “challenge traditional fashion conventions”.
“I’m up here literally working on homeless shelters. There’s documentation of it where the city came and tore down my creations while I was doing it,” West said. “So no one can tell me I’m insensitive when that stuff that I think about every single day and actually have put my mind and innovation to.”
The musician also said that his goal was to create “egalitarian clothing,” while the display was meant to make life “easier” to dress, as customers could simply reach in and choose a piece of clothing.
“The whole point of why I came to The Gap was to make egalitarian clothing,” West continued. “I remember times being in the [Dominican Republic], going to a store and seeing clothes in bins and just seeing people be happy to have a moment of discovery, to think like children.”
While speaking to Fox News, West said that he takes the criticisms seriously, as “this is not a joke” but rather his “life”. “This is not a joke. This is not a game. This is not just some celebrity collaboration,” he said. “This is my life.”
The rapper also condemned those who criticised his vision, claiming that it could negatively influence other creatives.
“We have to treat each other better. We’ve got to respect our mavericks. We’ve got to respect the people that are the heads of industry that are attempting to do something, that are doing something to bring our country back,” he said, adding that he is “fighting for a position to be able to change clothing and bring the best design to the people at a price they can accept”.
West’s comments come after he sparked backlash after claiming in an Instagram post last week that his designs are influenced by those experiencing homelessness.
“Look to the children / Look to the homeless as the biggest inspiration for all design,” the post read. The post was met with mixed reactions from West’s followers, with some applauding the designer’s vision while others suggested he could do more to help those who are less fortunate.
“Instead of using the homeless as inspiration for design, you should be helping them get out of homelessness,” one person wrote, while another said: “Sounds like exploitation of the powerless.”