It was meant to last 10 years. he barely made it past two.
On Thursday, Gap said it would end its partnership with Ye (the artist formerly known as Kanye West) in an internal email seen by The Business of Fashion. It was sent hours after the Wall Street Journal reported that West’s lawyers had informed Gap that it wanted to end the deal.
“Simply put…while we share a vision to bring high-quality, on-trend, utilitarian design to all people through unique experiences with Yeezy Gap, how we work together to deliver that vision doesn’t align,” he said. the email. , which was sent to employees of Gap Inc. by Mark Breitbard, president and CEO of the Gap brand. “We decide to end the partnership.”
The move marks an abrupt end to a multibillion-dollar partnership that was originally intended to last 10 years. Gap hoped the commitment could help revive its struggling brand. But the partnership was slow to release products. For about the first year and a half after its release in 2020, it released only two items: a jacket and a hoodie that were only available online.
Earlier this year, Balenciaga collaborated with Yeezy Gap on a larger collection “designed” by the luxury house. These items were more widely distributed and released in Gap stores, but their clothing and merchandising felt disconnected from Gap’s core offering.
The partnership was met with doubt from the start, with former Gap CEO Mickey Drexler saying the deal made no sense. It was also marked by internal tensions, according to a New York Times report.
Lately, West has expressed his frustrations with the Gap partnership, as well as his longstanding relationship with Adidas, on social media.
The termination letter sent by West’s lawyers on Thursday alleged that Gap violated the terms of the agreement by not releasing clothing from the collaboration and not opening retail stores. It stated that Gap was supposed to begin selling 40 percent of the Yeezy Gap collection in brick-and-mortar stores in the second half of 2021. The letter also claimed that by July 2023, Gap was supposed to have opened up to five Yeezy-focused stores Gap products, although it has not opened any to date, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Sometimes I would talk to the kids, the leaders, and it would be like I was on mute or something,” West said. during an interview with CNBC Thursday. “Our agenda was not aligned.”
In his email to Gap employees, Breitbard said the company will continue with the remaining Yeezy Gap launches already in the works for the company.
“We are truly grateful to our team members at Yeezy Gap for giving so much to building this brand, and we will take the new, hyper-business ways we’ve learned through this process with us as we move forward,” the email said. . “We will focus on our strategies to strengthen the brand and continue to push the boundaries of what Gap can offer.”
But the deal’s failure is undoubtedly an unwelcome turn for Gap Inc., which despite its best efforts has failed to turn around its namesake brand.
“Kanye’s decision to end his partnership with Gap will be a blow to the brand, which had pinned its hopes on Kanye’s magic to revive interest in his struggling business,” said Neil Saunders, chief executive. of research firm GlobalData, in an email. statement. “It’s also a shame on Gap for announcing the deal with the iconic artist with so much fanfare.”
Editor’s note: This article was amended on September 15, 2022, to add additional details and modify the duration of the partnership.