Tyla's Year of Firsts Now Includes a Fashion Milestone

The recent Grammy-winner stars in a spring campaign for Gap and brings her signature style with her.

Tyla poses with a dancer in a GAP campaign video while wearing a linen crop top
(Image credit: Charlie Di Placido for Gap)

Anything rising South African pop sensation Tyla wears needs to check exactly two boxes: "I have to be able to dance," she tells Marie Claire. "I have to be able to move."

To use another word the "Water" hitmaker offers while describing her personal style, she needs to be comfortable—but her definition doesn't include sweatpants and sports jerseys, at least when she has an audience.

As Tyla's TikTok prescence increased to a cool 7.2 million followers last year, "comfortable" meant macramé tube tops and itty-bitty mini skirts for performing self-choreographed dance routines to her music. Weeks ago, "comfortable" signified a seafoam green Versace gown with glittery fishnet overlays—a costume for a modern Venus—worn to clinch the inaugural Grammy for Best African Music Performance for "Water," which now sits at the top of the Billboard R&B chart. Today, "comfortable" is a linen set to dance in Gap's Spring 2024 campaign—Tyla's first for a global fashion brand.

The video follows Tyla and a group of dancers through Shay Latukolan's joyous choreography to “Back On 74,” a genre-bending bop from the U.K. group Jungle, that has been viewed more than one billion times on TikTok. Each dancer is dressed in free-flowing linen pieces from Gap's spring collection. Tyla's look consists of a linen crop-top and low-slung cargo pants, with a chain-link belt swaying around her hips. The breathable materials are obviously comfortable enough to move in—but in this case, comfort conveys confidence and a little sexiness, too.

The star can't think of a better first entry into fashion than through a partnership where she can show off her dancing skills (and in pieces from a heritage American brand that still reflecting her sultry, undone style). "I can see the influence of music and dance in the Gap campaigns," she says. "I just feel like it's a nice way to marry the two fashion and music." (The brand landed on her own radar with LL Cool J's 1999 ad spot.)

Tyla wears a button down shirt, linen pants, and bandana in an image from her Gap 2024 spring campaign

"I love just finding new ways to express my style," Tyla says. "I don't feel like there's just one way to do it."

(Image credit: Courtesy Gap)

It's almost a requirement for Grammy-winning artists to adopt a dedicated aesthetic reflecting the tone and themes of their music. Beyoncé has gone yeehaw-glam in glittery bolero jackets and cowboy hats to match Renaissance: Act II's country sound. Taylor Swift, teasing moody alt-pop for The Tortured Poets Department, has near-exclusively dressed in dark academia-coded pleated minis and neutral-toned tops this year. Tyla, weeks away from the release of her first full-length Afrobeats album (another milestone!), says she's in an era of "effortless, island-y, hot, sweaty, ripped" fashion. Tops are shredded and cropped to near-oblivion; pants and skirts are low-rise for optimal swaying.

"I love marrying my music and the way I look, I feel like it goes hand in hand," Tyla explains. "I see that also sonically with my album that's coming out, and with the Gap campaign."

Tyla poses in a white tank top crop top and mini skirt with a chain belt in her Gap spring 2024 campaign

"I just love that I can see the influence of music and dance in the Gap campaigns," Tyla says.

(Image credit: Courtesy Gap)

She didn't have to stray far from her artistic vision to fit the Gap mold. With easy, earth-tone spring linens as a canvas, Tyla could still imbue her campaign looks with slinky silhouettes and a pop star's flair for statement accessories. "I love that I was able to add some personal touches, like a waist belt and a scarf," she says.

As Tyla prepares to go on her first major tour—sensing a pattern here?—the artist is bringing even more of her self to her on-stage style. She's a vocal champion of South African designers like LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize winner Thebe Magugu, and incorporates her heritage into her fashion whenever she can. "I love just empowering other African creatives back home by wearing them wherever I go," she says. "It's basically in my swag in general, like the way I walk, the small little touches—like, this is a South African team and the small details matter to me."

Tyla wears a linen crop top, linen pants, and chain belt in a Gap spring 2024 campaign

"I love that I was able to add some personal touches, like a waist belt," Tyla says of her looks for the Gap campaign.

(Image credit: Courtesy Gap)

"When on stage, when doing things like this, I love playing around, playing dress up, and just trying new things," the singer says. The "Tyla vibe," as she calls it, is recognizable but never formulaic.

When the lights go down on-set and the work is over, the artist still thinks about ease more than anything else. Even with a historic first Grammy under her belt, she still gravitates toward fashion's great common denominator. "When I am alone, I'm very comfortable, in sweats and maybe a scarf," she admits. "So it's still the vibe but in a more realistic way, you know?"

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes fashion and beauty stories. Her reporting has ranged from in-depth designer profiles to fashion week reviews and research-backed shopping guides. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held fashion writer and editor roles at Harper’s BazaarMorning Brew, and Glamour. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. You can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.