Tyla's First Fashion Campaign Is With Gap: 'It Was Meant for Me to Do'

The Grammy Award-winning singer dances in pieces from a new linen collection for Gap Spring 2024.

Via Gap

In 1997, LL Cool J made history when he appeared in a Gap commercial freestyling and rocking a Fubu hat. Madonna and Missy Elliott shared the screen in 2003 to promote the longtime shopping mall retailer. Gap has a storied history of partnering with big artists. Tyla is the latest musician to add her name to the long list of ambassadors.

The South African singer appears in her first-ever fashion campaign for the brand’s new Spring 2024 collection. In the ad, she can be seen dancing to Jungle’s “Back on 74” donning flowy tan cargo pants and a matching crop top from Gap’s newest linen collection. The 22-year old and Jungle have even collaborated with Gap on a special in-store playlist to mark the launch.

“The commercials have always been very iconic and fun, not cheesy,” Tyla tells Complex. “It's something that I connected with even before the offer. So it kind of felt like it was meant for me to do.”

This Gap ad is just the latest milestone in Tyla’s young career. Her breakout single “Water” was one of the biggest radio hits of 2023 and peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. In February 2024, she took home her first Grammy for Best African Music Performance. Her newfound level of fame has given her more access to the fashion world that she has loved since she was a kid. Now, she can obtain the items that were once just pictures hanging on her wall.

“I always used to create mood boards and just have a bunch of pictures of things that I want that I probably couldn't get,” says Tyla. “I would just stare at it literally every day. I’d just look at it and be like, ‘One day I'm gonna get that.’ So now it's cool that I'm able to.”

Ahead of the campaign’s launch, we hopped on the phone with Tyla to discuss the new commercial, South African style, her signature grills, and more. 

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

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This is your first major fashion campaign. It’s another milestone so early on in your career. How does it feel to be a part of this campaign with Gap?
It feels great. I've seen a lot of iconic Gap commercials previously. So I love that I'm able to be a part of one, especially with Jungle. I love “Back on 74.” I was literally watching that video so many times before getting the offer, so being able to be plugged into that world was so fun. Like learning that dance, meeting the dancers, the choreographer. It was such a cool experience.

I was going to say. I saw the video and it seemed like a fun set to be on.
Yeah, it was so fun. Everyone was so nice and patient with me. I ended up doing a [dance] style that I haven't done before. So it was really cool to be able to do that for a day. I'm excited for the Tygers to see it because they've never seen me in that way before.

What about Gap made them a good partner for you?
The commercials have always been very iconic and fun, not cheesy. It's something that I connected with even before the offer. So it kind of felt like it was meant for me to do.

Now you're doing these campaigns with brands like Gap and you're on carpets dressed in these special gowns and you're at fashion shows. Were you always into fashion growing up?
Definitely. I've always loved fashion and playing with clothes, playing different types of characters. I just always remember taking my mother's clothes. Me and my cousins used to get in trouble for taking our clothes and swapping them whenever we used to visit each other. We'd fill up bags of clothes. I've always just loved clothing and playing around with that, trying new things. I feel like now I'm also in a phase where I'm exploring more, which is exciting. So, yeah, I'm definitely a fashion girl.

Any fashion-related memories from your upbringing? Do you remember begging for a certain pair of shoes or a special outfit for a certain event or anything like that?
Yeah, there's a lot. I always used to create mood boards and just have a bunch of pictures of things that I want that I probably couldn't get. I would just stare at it literally every day. I’d just look at it and be like, “One day I'm gonna get that.” So now it's cool that I'm able to. 

Do you remember what any of those things were?
Even like a PS5. But obviously at that time it was like a PS3 or whatever. I always wanted one and now I'm able to get one. Fashion wise, there's so much I've always just wanted. I really wanted a Dior bag and I'm planning on getting a Dior bag finally.

What would you say is like the biggest difference between style in South Africa versus the US?
I feel like I feel like in South Africa, we kind of are influenced by American style so I can kind of see the resemblance. But I feel like in South Africa, we're more carefree about things, effortless almost. Yeah, I would say more effortless in South Africa with our clothing and our swag and the way we carry ourselves.

Has anything changed as far as how you approach your personal style since coming to the US? 
I feel like it elevated because I have more access now. But my core is always there, like my little tops, little skirts, ripped stuff. Those things will always be there.

Are there any fashion trends from when you were growing up that you wish would make a comeback?
Wow. I mean, I remember there was a time where these Converse shoes were trending, the ones that were up to your knees. That would be something. It was hot. It is hot still.

Is there anything that you look back on and you're like, “I can't believe I wore that.”
Oh my God. Probably like pumps. I don't like pumps. Oh my word. And I was always in pumps. I don't know why. My mother would just go to CBD in Joburg and get gang pumps because there were a lot of girls. My mother used to just do it like the easy way out getting us outfits. Gang pumps. Ay ay ay.

Who were your style inspirations growing up?
I just wanted to be my mom really. So I would probably say my mother. But then also, I loved how Britney Spears dressed. Her outfits were always like dream outfits for me.

Do you still look at them now and think about recreating them in some way?
I mean, I draw inspiration from a lot of things and try to find a way to do it in a new way. So, definitely. There's a lot of things that I still find cute and I would draw inspiration from, but definitely it will be reworked and done in a new way.

I feel like grills have become almost like a signature piece of your style. When did that become part of your style and who is making them for you?
Very early. I started with tooth gems. When I started getting a following on social media, this company was like, “I'm going to give you grills,” and I was so excited because I was definitely not paying for grills. I didn’t have the money. [Laughs.]

So it was perfect. I had it on all the time. Now I'm always doing tooth gems. I did the grills for the Grammys. I don't know. I just love tooth jewelry. I love the way it shines when I talk and when I smile. I just feel like it elevates any look.

You worked a little bit with Travis Scott on the “Water” remix and the video. Any style tips you got from him? Has he tossed you any gear yet?
I feel like we have different styles. We don't relate style wise, but he's cool. He’s always dripping. [Laughs.]

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