Wildfires

How Simple Lawnwork And Safety Protocols Can Help To Prevent Wildfires

Although scientists have confirmed that climate change is at play when it comes to the increased risk of wildfires, estimates say that nine out of 10 wildfires are sparked by humans. 

Record breaking temperatures, due to the climate crisis, have caused severe drought conditions in many areas of the world, from North America to Europe. These conditions are optimal for wildfires. As global temperatures increase, wildfires become more frequent and more severe. 

While combating the climate crisis is important to prevent these fires from worsening, there are also ways that you can directly help prevent wildfires according to official sources. 

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The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) advises first and foremost that before you engage with any activities that involve fire or sparks, check local weather and drought conditions. Check especially when it is hot, dry and windy and if the conditions are not right, look to use non-flammable options, or save your activity for another day when conditions are safer.

The department states that “conditions and local restrictions should guide your decision for any fire-related activity such as building a campfire, operating equipment, off-roading on dry grass, or burning debris.”

Human activities that can cause wildfires include but are not limited to smoking, fireworks, campfires, barbeques, accidental ignitions, sparks from equipment and railroads, and obviously, intentional arson.  According to Science Magazine, “human-sparked fires typically spread about 1.83 kilometers per day, more than twice as fast as the 0.83 kilometers per day for lightning-induced burns.”

If you have checked conditions and are proceeding with activities involving fire or sparks, be sure to follow some safety protocols to prevent an accidental fire from occurring. If you are building a campfire, be sure to build it in a flat, open location which is away from flammable materials – such as logs, leaves and so forth. When building the campfire, clear away grass leaves and needles, leaving only the soil to build on.

Only start a bonfire, campfire, and so forth in an appropriate fire pit. Cut wood in short lengths and keep it in the cleared area, before you start the fire. Once you have lit the fire, never leave it unattended and completely extinguish it before you leave.

To completely extinguish the campfire, douse it with one bucket of water, stir it, and then douse it again with another bucket of water. Before you leave the campfire, it should be cold to the touch. 

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If you smoke, do not discard any cigarettes, matches or smoking material on flammable land – this includes park grounds and forests. Do not discard them out of moving vehicles, and ensure cigarettes are completely extinguished before disposing of them. 

National Geographic states that you should follow local ordinances when burning yard waste. “Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from the yard when burning.”

When working with camp equipment that requires fuel, take care to store fuel away from appliances, only refuel when the appliance is cool and avoid spilling flammable liquids. Follow the safety procedures when using such equipment. 

For machinery, aim to keep sparks away from dry vegetation. Keep equipment such as chainsaws well maintained. Same goes for vehicles, but additionally, keep them off of dry grass. The DOI says to remember that exhausts can reach temperatures of 1,000+ degrees when off-roading.

If you notice an unattended fire or an out of control fire, call 911, your local fire department, or park services. If you are unsure of the proper protocols for fire safety and preventing fires for any activity, check with your local fire department or official fire prevention resources. 

If you live in an area where wildfires are common, Red Cross has also provided tips on maintaining your home to reduce the chances of a small fire becoming a wildfire, or preventing an unintentional fire from growing. They advise various methods to follow, such as choosing fire-resistant plants, creating empty spaces between shrubs and trees, mowing grassy areas regularly, removing dead and dry plants — along with fallen leaves and pine cones — and pruning trees above the height of shrubs and bushes.

Dua Lipa Expanding Her Career With Lifestyle Brand Service95

Dua Lipa announced to Vogue this week that she would be launching her own lifestyle brand, Service95. Dua explained the brand as a “style, culture, and society concierge service,” which has been a hobby of hers for quite some time now.

“I’ve dreamed about this for so long. It’s a massive hobby of mine – I’ve always compulsively made lists of everything: my favorite places to eat, my favorite places to stay. Honestly, if I were to show you the Notes app on my phone right now…” 

Service95 is described to be a weekly newsletter featuring recommendations personally chosen by Dua. 

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“All my friends and family, wherever they travel in the world – even if they’re just there for one night – they’ll text me to ask what they should do. I’m their go-to person for recommendations.” 

Service95 will “allow those outside Dua’s inner circle access to that same insider knowledge she’s acquired as one of the biggest – and most well-travelled – superstars on the planet,” Vogue wrote.

Dua is also mending this new project with her non-profit organization the Sunny Hill Foundation, which recently opened up a kindergarten in her parent’s native town of Kosovo. Service95 will be used as a platform to shine the spotlight on inspiring figures and the causes that Dua feels passionately about. 

“For young people, looking at the news can be quite intense. You want to help but you don’t really know how to help. I want to help give young people the tools to make a difference.”

She’s not just stopping there either, Dua announced that along with the newsletter the project will also involve a podcast called At Your Service, which is described to have a wide variety of guests, including activists and some of Dua’s most famous friends. 

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“It’s very interesting being on the other side of the interview! All the guests I’m speaking to have very inspiring stories, and hopefully [as listeners], you will learn something about yourself,” she says. 

“Providing a platform for grassroots voices, or breaking down pressing issues in an accessible way, that element is really important to me. I’ve always believed that being of service is my mission in life. The whole idea is sharing information and helping each other.” 

“Subscribers can look forward to an artfully curated mix of think pieces, travel tips, and advice. There will be lots of different voices, interesting articles, and my own personal note about what I’ve been up to and what I’ve discovered,” Dua explained. 

“I want to be able to experience things, I don’t want to go to an amazing city and stay inside my hotel then leave and just say that I’ve been there. That has always been a massive thing for me. No matter what, I’ll make an effort to do something fun, and now I hope I can inspire others to do the same.”

Food Bank

Food Banks Struggle To Feed The Hungry As Prices Rise

For food banks, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a hard-hitting obstacle that threatens the well-being of families across the countries. Now, there are more hills to climb in the forms of rising food prices and supply chain issues that could cause massive havoc as the always-busy holiday season approaches.

As the Associated Press notes, the surging costs and the subsequent scarcity could equate to families in need receiving smaller portions or substitutes for favorite foods. Some food banks even worry they won’t be able to provide classic servings such as cranberry sauce or stuffing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Speaking to the AP, Feeding America chief operating officer Katie Fitzgerald explained that while food distribution numbers have seen a decrease, they’re still at almost 55% over the totals from the pre-pandemic times, and that an increase in food insecurity is still very possible “if too many shoes drop.”

The 200 food banks that work with Feeding America — which distributes around 4.3 billion meals per year — saw a 31% increase in the amount of food distributed in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the first quarter of 2020. Many of the food banks expanded due to the increased demand.

During the first year of COVID, food distribution continually rose as many who had never required a food bank before suddenly needed assistance. 1.1 billion pounds of food were shipped off in the first quarter of 2020, which rose to 1.6 billion in the second quarter, a 42% increase. The third quarter had a slight increase of 5%, and distributions began to decline at the end of 2020.

The surging transportation costs are to blame for donated food being more expensive. Meanwhile, labor shortages and backlogs at factories and ports are heavily contributing to the lack of availability when it comes to food and supplies.

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According to AP, the Alameda County Community Food Bank in California is now spending an extra $60,000 a month on food, while also spending $1 million a month in order to distribute 4.5 million pounds of food. The costs of various types of servings are up anywhere from 6% to 17%.

In addition to food banks, government food assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — also known as food stamps — saw increased usage by hungry families as well. SNAP users bumped up by 7 million from 2019 to 2021, which brought the total amount to 42 million. The program also had a benefits increase of 25% in October, which means the average monthly per-person benefits rose from $121 to $157.

It’s not just the absence of food supplies and costs that are interfering with food bank operations, however – the lack of volunteers is also an alarming factor. In San Francisco, one food bank only has seven to 10 volunteers working a shift despite needing to serve over 50,000 families per week. The number of volunteers down from 30-80 volunteers pre-pandemic.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, one reason for the absence of volunteers is the uprise in remote work. Companies are opting not to send employees in to assist anymore on paid-volunteering days, which has left pantries scrambling to rework their inner organizations.

Meet The ‘Psychic’ Tik Tok Pug Who’s Captured The Attention Of Millions

For Tik Tok users, there’s only one dog that matters: Noodle, the 13-year-old pug who apparently has “psychic” abilities. Every morning, his owner Jonathon Graziano (@jongraz) picks Noodle up from his dog bed. From there, Noodle will either fall or stand up.

If Noodle falls right back into bed, it’s a “no bones” day. According to Graziano, that means you should take the day off, don’t do hard tasks, wear comfortable clothes, and just enjoy a bath – a la, a “self-care” day to help you revitalize.

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If he keeps standing, it’s a “bones” day. That means you’re in for a great day, and Graziano says you should be confident, ready to take risks if need be, and seize the day. Noodle’s cute predictions have since blown up: Graziano’s profile currently has 2.6 million followers and 23.2 million likes, and a number of Noodle’s videos have combined for over 50 million views. #NoBones also has 258.1 million views.

In one of his videos, Graziano explained that Noodle was adopted when he was seven and a half-years-old and they learned early that when Noodle doesn’t want to go on a walk, he won’t go on a walk – probably something all dog owners have related to at one point or another.

Graziano has also made sure not to “force” a bones prediction. If Noodle, who Graziano refers to as his “sweet king,” won’t wake up, his owner won’t disturb him. Rather, it’s just a no bones day and the pug can enjoy his deep slumber.

“I love this thing but… no TikTok video is more important than Noodle’s wellbeing. None of it,” Graziano told Insider, assuring that the dog calls the shots when it comes to the video.

Appearing on the TODAY show, Graziano (with Noodle in tow) talked about how unbelievable it was that such a funny little daily event could have impacted so many on the popular app while spreading tons of positivity in the process.

“Noodle has brought joy to so many people online. I can’t believe it,” Graziano said. “This ‘no bones’ video is something that I would just do as a silly little ritual for us in the morning to check in and see how he was doing. And then it took off.”

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For the doubters out there, Noodle’s magic apparently works. “A woman the other day said it was a ‘bones day,’ so she bought a lotto ticket and won half a million dollars,” Graziano claimed, also citing actions such as proposals and down payments on bones days.

Tik Tok is known for its ability to thrust people into the spotlight due to impressive (or somewhat ordinary) talents. Charlie and Dixie D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and Zach King are just a few of the many names that have hit the spotlight up since the app saw its usage soar amongst young teens.

Of course, Tik Tok doesn’t always have warm-hearted moments like this. The app received plenty of negative attention last month when the “devious lick” – a trend where teens vandalize and steal school property – emerged.

In a world where many are feeling stressed from current events, pandemics, and challenges, it’s nice to see how much joy and excitement a pug, who may or may not have psychic powers, can bring. Hopefully we experience nothing but bones days from now on.

Brain

Are “Smart” Headbands The Newest Stress-Relieving Technology Of The Future?

If you’re an avid headband wearer who also happens to love the newest innovative technology, this just might be the product for you. Speaking with BBC News, USA Bobsled/Skeleton team member Emma Baumert has taken to wearing a smart headband that measures brainwaves.

The headband, called FocusCalm, is a neurofeedback or EEG (electroencephalography) device. According to FocusCalm, the headband’s sensors pick up electrical pulses from your brain, which are then compared to an AI (artificial intelligence) model that shows the user their mental state.

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Through the use of an app, FocusCalm offers the user the opportunity to build a routine while also improving their mental state thanks to games that are intended to engage the user’s brain in order to increase productivity and calmness.

Max Newlon, president of BrainCo., the firm behind FocusCalm, explained to BBC that the headband’s AI monitors 1,250 “data points” in the user’s detected brainwaves. A user score between 0 to 100 is then given, with 50 being the typical score as their website states.

While some may be skeptical of how well FocusCalm actually functions, Baumert— who became a part-time researcher for BrainCo. due to her education and sports-heavy background— vouched for the headband’s usefulness when it comes to improving a person’s overall state of mind and being.

“I got to visualize and learn how to have better control, and what training I need to do to get into a more relaxed state, while still being able to have very high explosive power output.”

A device like FocusCalm isn’t exactly new or exclusive, as other companies have taken a crack at neurofeedback technology. Muse and Cove work similarly to FocusCalm, using apps to deliver brain activity results and exercises to the user. Unlike FocusCalm, both respective products emphasize their ability as a sleep-aid.

Of course, not everyone is on board with the brain-reading headband. U.K. psychologist Dr. Naomi Murphy told BBC that EEG devices can have negative consequences, such as changing a person’s view on their brain activity after use.

“While some people find measurements useful or reinforcing, many are attracted to ‘neuro-tech’ because they identify with a vulnerability, an anxiety about their performance, and the use of data can exacerbate this.”

Additionally, others question how AI can successfully implement itself in meditation practices that have existed for well over 1,000 years, and advocate that you shouldn’t need to compare your mental results to others.

The going price for one of these headbands is almost $200. That also doesn’t include the app membership, which costs $149 for a lifetime account. While you may not be having stress following a purchase, your wallet might. If you’re out of that price range, don’t fret— there are other, less-costly methods that can help you break away from your anxiety-filled days.

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Calm, an app that has received critical praise and was named an Editor’s Choice on the App Store, helps to bring users less anxiety through breathing and stretching exercises. Calm also promotes better, more relaxing sleep through music and bed-time stories told by well-known stars. Calm is also free, although it does contain in-app purchases.

If technology isn’t appealing, there are simple, classic ways of stress relief that you could do, even while reading this. From simple, 5-minute yoga techniques to taking a morning or afternoon walk or run, stopping to give yourself personal time, even for a brief period, could do your mental health good in the long-term.

Of course, don’t let anything stop you if you have the burning desire to give FocusCalm a go. You’ll be able to try out some fascinating hardware while also giving yourself a head start on a sci-fi costume for Halloween.

Meet The French Drag Pair Who Are Redefining The Wedding Dress Market 

James and ViviAnn Du Fermoir-de-Monsac are redefining the current vision of an “ideal bride,” which is often portrayed in the mainstream as someone thin, white, and able-bodied. The two meet with their clients in full drag as a means of creating a safe atmosphere where everyone can feel accepted for who they are. 

“That’s why we chose to open a store in drag, because we wanted to say to everyone that you are welcome, no matter who you are.” 

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The dresses are designed after a two-hour consultation with the client about their specific needs, and typically start around €1,500 (£1,290). While the couple is inspired by the classic looks of Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, their main goal is always to create the most accurate version of their clients vision as possible. 

They typically create dresses that other designers wouldn’t attempt. For example the couple recently designed a dress with a cape for an individual in a wheelchair, and are currently working with a client who was told she couldn’t get married in trainers. 

“The marriage industry is still a little bit classical, and there are many people who are forgotten. No matter what your taste is, no matter what shape your body is, we love everybody and we want everybody to love themselves.” 

“We want people to be the best version of themselves on their wedding day,” said James. 

Du Fermoir-de-Monsac’s first ever client was a four-year-old boy who wanted to wear a dress to a wedding, however, his mother was afraid doing so would attract negative attention. So the couple made him a kilt that the mother says he still wears to school. 

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James and ViviAnn originally met at a drag competition in 2019; James was a judge and ViviAnn was a contestant. The two bonded over their love of fashion and the fact that they both designed their sisters wedding dresses. James was originally working as a chocolatier and ViviAnn was a hairdresser, however, when the pandemic initially hit in spring 2020, both of their businesses took a major hit, so they decided to take a risk and open a wedding boutique. 

Du Fermoir-de-Monsac was the pet name ViviAnn’s father gave to her mother. The boutique officially opened in April this year and in June they launched their first ever collection followed by a runway show. The collection was meant to be a “riot of lace, leather, spikes, and tulle tailored to a variety of body times.”

After the show James and ViviAnn’s drag personas got married in a faux ceremony; although the pair are actually best friends in real life and live together. 

“We are close friends in our lives, and we decided, as we were building a bridal dress company, to marry James and ViviAnn. We married in the name of couture.”

The pair are planning to bring their designs to a multitude of bridal shows this year in attempt to reach a wider pool of clients and spread their message of inclusivity and beauty in the bridal sphere. 

Sneakers

Finnish Firm Seeks Funding For ‘Performative Sneakers’ Made Of Coffee Waste

Finnish footwear firm Rens is working on creating performative trainer sneakers that are made from recycled plastic bottles and used coffee beans. 

The company recently launched an online fundraising campaign for their latest sustainable clothing, which they claim to be completely climate neutral in its production, packaging, and transport. 

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“Shoes made from recycled coffee grounds may seem novel to some, but we wholeheartedly believe that this is just the beginning of a revolution in garment technology and manufacturing.”

Sun Chu, the firm’s co-founder, said the shoe, known as Nomad, will be made from coffee waste and recycled bottles. Recycled polyester will be used to create the membrane of the shoe which will also make it waterproof. 

This is the company’s second shoe that they’ve produced using sustainable materials and practices. 

Their initial shoe was extremely successful, but Jesse Tran, co-founder and CEO of Rens, claims the popularity of their initial product created a demand for a more performance-related product. 

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The original shoe was made up of 21 cups of coffee waste and six bottles of recycled plastic each. 

“With the new model, we are continuing our mission to promote sustainable fashion with technology and innovation.” 

“We are particularly pleased that we were able to include the feedback from our previous customers in the development of the Nomad, who explicitly requested a performance sneaker,” Tran explained. 

Athletic wear made from sustainable and recycled materials have become extremely popular in recent years, as the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to worldwide climate change. 

Mintel, a market analyst tool, revealed that in June more fashion brands were releasing athletic wear specifically made from recycled materials. Mintel predicted that more brands will begin switching to sustainable production processes to encourage customers and other brands to go green.

Golfing

Clubessential Launches Lifestyle Clubs For Post-Covid Era Businesses 

Clubessential is known for providing the next generation of club and business leaders with full suite memberships and club management solutions that enable more than 1,300 private clubs to make “smart decisions, deliver exceptional member experiences, build stronger clubs, and create members for life.” 

Now, the company is changing how it runs these suits to better align with the post-covid era of doing things. The new Essential Suites for clubessential’s client’s markets help enable leaders and staff build up engagement, and create easy experiences for their members. 

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These Essential Suites are made for city and university clubs, yacht clubs, racquet clubs, Homeowners association/property owner associations, golf and country clubs, and more!

According to Clubessential President Lynn Mangan, “the product and market extensions were a logical step for the company.”

“We have been serving specialized lifestyle clubs for years and have a deep understanding of the unique spaces where they operate.”

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“That combined with our leading mobile-first technology and understanding of member and staff needs make this a natural evolution for Clubessential and a great solution for clubs that have unique needs,” she explained.

The tech solutions integrated within these Essential Suites offer numerous ways for clubs to better engage with members while still delegating employees and other staff throughout the day. Some of this new technology integration includes a cloud-based mobile app, mobile/online scheduling, fitness/spa services, management tools, digital transactions, and data access. 

The Essential Suites for these specific clubs will enable them to better implement easy solutions to running their business or niche. 

The goal is to continue to grow the Clubessential brand by growing other brands through their services. In a post-covid era, a majority of all work gets done online. So when it comes to things like specialized clubs, finding the right space and means of operation is essential for its success. 

New Pickleball Lifestyle Magazine Launches In US 

The pickleball craze sweeping across America has become so popular that a new lifestyle magazine is being launched specifically regarding the sport. 

Dick Porter and magazine designer J. Armus are launching the magazine “In Pickleball,” which is described as a “new sports-lifestyle magazine aimed at fans of the fast-growing game.” 

“In Pickleball will be the Vogue of Pickleball, printed on heavy stock and appealing to the mostly older and well-off Americans who live for the game.”

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The first issue features Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and articles will include fun quizzes and lifestyle tips for living your best active lifestyle on the pickleball court.

“Coming out of this pandemic, people crave a sense of community and escape,” said In Pickleball creative director Armus.

“Pickleball is an inclusive community that welcomes anyone who wants to experience the joy of playing. The minute you step onto a court, you can have a good time. It’s something we need in our culture.”

Sportscaster Taylor McGregor recently did a segment on how the Chicago Cubs baseball team has become “addicted to the game.”

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Porter thinks the magazine’s main demographic will be among those who are 50 years or older, however, he also believes that the game is becoming much more popular among younger people, so he has hope that they can market the magazine and game to take on a more youthful look. 

The first issue of the magazine will be distributed for free to about 30,000 various resorts, hotels, and other venues that offer sports accommodations specifically for pickleball. 

“While we will welcome all advertisers, we think like many magazines today, it has to be reader support. This is just the first step in what will ultimately become a multi-platformed, involving social media, a Web presence and e-commerce.”

Pickleball, for those who don’t know, is a cross between badminton and wiffleball. In 2019 it was reported that the US had around 30,000 pickleball courts throughout it, a 133% increase in the amount of courts present in the country for the past 5 years. 

“My first job in publishing was with the magazine Fly Fisherman with Ziff Davis Publications, which had specialized sports magazines like Backpacker and Sports Diver as well as some small tech magazines covering the nascent computer industry. In a lot of ways, I am going back to my roots,” said Porter.

Clothes Store

Gap Announces Second Collaboration With Kanye West

The Gap has released their second item from its collaboration with Kanye West’s Yeezy label. The new black puffer called a “go round jacket,” looks similar to the blue puffer jacket the two brands recently released together as well. 

Insiders with Gap are hoping that these collaborations will help reverse all that was lost during the past year of the pandemic. Gap specifically lost about $62 million in the third quarter of last year, and they’re still trying to recover. The retail giant also announced plans to close 81 of its physical stores. 

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Once the initial collaboration with Kanye West was announced, however, the share price for Gap surged by 40%, adding $700 million to the brand. Wells Fargo recently released a report that showed Gap could become a billion dollar company if they continue their collaborative efforts with the Yeezy brand. 

The good thing for Gap is that Kanye still has enough fans for hoodies to drive sales. Yeezy, a label known for its elevated hoodies, will reap the benefits of the pandemic-led boom in comfort wear such as velour tracksuits and sweatpants. Before the pandemic,” says author and associate editor of Rap Pages, Ronda Racha Penrice.

Jeff Carvalho is the executive editor of Highsnobiety, a popular streetwear website, who recently claimed that this collaboration could send both brands to the next level. 

“Kanye has always wanted a big mainstream platform to work on. Gap is about as mainstream as it gets in hitting the malls, and accessibility to the product has long been a mantra of his. Being mainstream is the new cool when it comes to lifestyle brands.”

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“When his footwear line first launched he stated that everyone who wanted to get a pair would eventually be able to do so and that statement became true, which is very interesting in a culture that’s fixated on limited releases,”said Arby Li, editor in chief of men’s fashion website Hypebeast.

Racha Penrice discussed how regardless of West’s controversial past, this collaboration will benefit Gap as much as it will Yeezy.

“There’s already a payoff for Gap from a PR perspective. Despite his pro-Trump allegiances and his controversial slavery comments, both of which alienated fans, I don’t believe Yeezy X Gap sales will be effected,” she explained.

“He’s still a star and now Gap is benefiting from that. We are talking about Gap here and it’s been mentioned quite a bit on social media, not to mention by influential publications, so this looks like a promising partnership.”

“I spoke to Yeezy and he’s very, very focused on this incredible opportunity. [It will] provide balance for us both. With Yeezy becoming slightly more approachable while also giving Gap an edge it has been missing for some time now,”  Sonia Syngal, Gap’s chief executive, told the Business of Fashion.