Kanye West says he will end partnership with Gap

His attorney, Nicholas Gravante, said in a statement Thursday that West “had no choice but to terminate the partnership” after he claimed the retailer had violated their partnership, Issues such as opening a Yeezy-branded store and distributing his clothing did not go as planned.

West then appeared on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Thursday, describing his displeasure with the retailer.

“It’s always been my dream to be at Gap and bring the best product to the masses,” he told the network, adding that he envisions a top-of-the-line product that can be sold for $20. But, he said, he was ultimately unable to set the price he wanted for the final series.

“Sometimes I talk to those guys, the leaders, and it’s like I’m on mute.”

Gap: “Inconsistent Vision”

Gap (Global Positioning System) Late Thursday, CNN Business saw an internal company email confirming that it was ending its partnership with Yeezy.

“We wanted to address the headlines related to Yeezy Gap today and over the past few weeks. Simply put…while our vision is to bring high-quality, edgy, practical to all through the unique Yeezy Omni Experience Designing Gap, how we worked together to achieve that vision was not aligned. We decided to end our collaboration,” Gap Brand President and CEO Mark Breitbard said in an email.

Breitbard said in the note that the retailer “has stayed true to our commitment throughout this partnership – the team has done so with the utmost integrity, overcoming obstacles and showing incredible determination.”

“The launch of Yeezy Gap is a disruptive, highly creative endeavor – it challenges us to think and operate differently, attracting new, younger and more diverse customers…  We’ll be adopting new, hyper-entrepreneurial ways of working that we’ve learned through the process as we go along,” Breitbard said in the note.

With the partnership now ending, Yeezy Gap’s existing merchandise will continue to be available in the company’s stores and website, Gap said. It also expects to continue selling Yeezy Gap’s upcoming collections in the fall and the first half of 2023 — including a holiday 2022 collection priced at $100 or less.

“Gap’s massive non-compliance with its contractual obligations has been costly,” wrote Gravante, co-chair of the Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft litigation panel. “Now, Ye will now make up for lost time by opening Yeezy retail stores.”

Gap shares fell more than 3.5% on Thursday.

Announced in June 2020, the partnership immediately provided struggling retailers with a much-needed relevancy boost. For example, a $200 jacket by West was an instant hit, but was only available online.
West also said that Gap was required to sell 40 percent of Yeezy Gap products in its retail stores, but that has yet to happen, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The relationship has soured in recent months. West, also known as Ye, criticized Gap for not listening to him. In a now-deleted post on Instagram, he said, “You have to really make me Ye, make me do what I’m thinking, or I have to do it somewhere else,” he said in a now-deleted Instagram post, according to The Wall Street Journal. ”

GlobalData managing director Neil Sanders wrote in a note that the breakup was “not entirely unexpected” and would not financially hurt Gap’s bottom line.

“Gap is a cautious company with an antiquated brand that typically doesn’t make bold moves. Kanye, by contrast, is a radical innovator who likes to change the status quo,” Sanders wrote. “While Kanye could be a shot in the arm for Gap, the incompatibility of the two visions means setbacks are inevitable. In some ways, Kanye is too extreme for Gap.”

West recently told Bloomberg that it’s “time for me to go it alone,” adding that he no longer wants the company to “stand between me and the audience.”

— CNN’s Parija Kavilanz contributed to this report

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