Gap Inc and Kanye West are officially ending their partnership. The contract for the Yeezy Gap collection will terminate 8 years early, opting out of a renewal, after it was originally set to expire in 2030.
Launched in 2020 to much hype and fanfare, the collaboration was to generate 1 billion dollars in annual sales, spanning men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories. Gap’s share price surged at the time of the announcement, hitting a forty-year high.
Ye, as Mr West is now known, cited a breach of contract to Gap’s management early August. Gap acknowledged terminating the contract in a widely shared email to employees.
“While we share a vision of bringing high-quality, trend-forward, utilitarian design to all people through unique omni experiences with Yeezy Gap, how we work together to deliver this vision is not aligned, and we are deciding to wind down the partnership,” wrote Gap’s brand president, Mark Breitbard.
Failure to open standalone stores
Gap’s breach of contract “failed for over two years to sell a single product in a single Gap store, including any of its 500+ stores in North America,” a letter sent by Yeezy’s solicitors stated. “Nor did gap open a dedicated store.”
The “next level retail partnership” that was to come of the collaboration never materialised. It is likely the corporate structure of a mall retailer like Gap and the creative vision of Ye were a doomed match, with just two items launched in the first 18 months of the partnership.
The slow start appeared to be forgotten when Balenciaga creative director Demna entered the mix, launching a 36-piece collection called Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga. With price points significantly higher than Gap and a messy roll-out, Ye publicly aired frustration with the very corporate companies that have helped propel his brand forward, earning billions in revenue.
Yeezy is undergoing a similar tussle at Adidas, having accused the sportswear giant of copying Yeezy footwear styles into its own collection, mismanaging designs and making brand decisions without approval. It remains to be seen if Yeezy can exit the Adidas in similar fashion. Ye wrote on social media of his desire to work direct to consumer in order to have full control over the execution of his brand.