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Kanye West’s Partnership with Gap Could Mainstream Made in USA Apparel

Kanye West’s 10-year partnership with Gap may be the linchpin in his plan to jumpstart U.S. apparel and footwear manufacturing. A Yeezy spokesperson told Rivet parts of the brand’s partnership with Gap will be produced in the U.S.

Yeezy business director Matt George confirmed the deal will lead to more jobs in Cody, Wyo., the heartland outpost where West has been building a Yeezy headquarters and manufacturing complex for the past six months.

In an interview with Cody Enterprise, George said jobs will be entry-level positions with “highly specialized training provided, to allow for a local workforce that will be heavily sourced for the manufacturing jobs.” Design and prototyping jobs will be the first added, with assembly-line positions to follow, however the report did not specify what type of products will be produced at the facility.

Though the number of jobs created is also unknown, George said the company hopes to start production by the end of the year.

West tweeted a teaser image from his new Gap collaboration last week that included a weekender bag that references the date the deal was inked along with the Wyoming hub. The bag features embroidery that states, “Developed by Yeezy and Gap in Cody, WY 062520.”

In December, West submitted a bid to repurpose a Cody factory into a future sample lab for Yeezy brand products. A state-of-the-art footwear sample and prototype laboratory has already been built on site for the brand’s ongoing collaboration with Adidas. The laboratory will be staffed within the next 60 days, according to Cody Enterprise.

By Jan. 1, Yeezy will produce over 1 million pairs of footwear locally as Phase 1, a spokesperson said.

West has also revealed plans to host a cotton hydroponic farm and investigate sustainable dyes at the Yeezy complex.

The longevity of the Yeezy and Gap deal may bode well for the rural town as companies hit hard by the pandemic begin to source local alternatives to shorten their supply chain. Producing the collection in Cody will require an extensively trained workforce and logistics that other companies could potentially piggyback, and ultimately help bring down the cost of domestic manufacturing.

And the town’s association with West may inject a cool factor into the backstories of millennial and Gen Z-centric brands.

Former Stance CEO Taylor Shupe recently said he is looking to build out a knitting facility in Cody for his sock manufacturer, FutureStitch.