/ Blog / Kanye West's Yeezy Brand Is Ending Its Contract With Gap

author

Erik Petrov

date

21 September 2022

Kanye West's Yeezy Brand Is Ending Its Contract With Gap

Rapper and hip-hop artist Kanye West, better known simply as Ye, is ending his Yeezy Gap 10-year contract with clothing retail giant Gap. With 8 years left on the contract, West's lawyer filed a notice of termination with Gap Inc., which states that the company failed to carry out contractual obligations.

 

The clothing retail giant failed to open Yeezy Gap stores and make timely distribution of Yeezy products by the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021. According to reports, Mark Breitbard, the CEO and President of Global Gap Brand, recently emailed Gap Inc. staff to confirm the end of the Gap and Yeezy partnership.

 

 

In the email, Breitbard reportedly acknowledged that both brands share the vision for bringing trend-forward, high-quality, utilitarian design to customers. However, how Gap and Yeezy collaborate to realize this vision is not aligned, which is why they are deciding to terminate the partnership.

 

Ye to Yeezy

 

Kanye West is an icon in the hip-hop and rap world, but his ambitions as a fashion designer led him to break into the streetwear scene, specifically the sneaker and footwear industry.

 

Initially, West struggled a lot, and his fashion exhibitions were met with ridicule by critics and publications. He even interned at Fendi in 2009 for a measly $500/month salary and took on millions of dollars in debt by 2015, trying to break into the fashion industry with a clothing line.

 

Despite the pushback from fashion gatekeepers, West managed to find an alternative route into the fashion industry through footwear when he first landed a partnership deal with sportswear and sneaker giant Nike back in 2009.

 

Nike (2009-2013)

 

Nike partnered with West's Yeezy brand, and despite the frequent failure of West's clothing lines, his limited production Yeezy sneakers became an instant hit.

 

Fans and customers would line up in front of Nike stores overnight to get their hands on a pair of Nike Air Yeezys, and the sneaker would sell out within minutes online. However, designing sneakers for hypebeasts alone was not West's vision for Yeezy, which is why he left Nike in 2013.

 

Adidas (2013 - 2020)

 

West partnered with Adidas after Nike to turn the Yeezy brand into a household name. Adidas offered West a lot more creative freedom than Nike and even gave him his own line of sneakers.

 

They told him that they would boost production of Yeezy sneakers to make them affordable and available to the masses. This was in line with West's vision for Yeezy because he wanted to open Yeezy branded stores and bring Yeezys to every household.

 

Adidas also had their iconic retro Superstar sneakers from the 70s as an example to prove their capabilities to West. Unfortunately, while Yeezys sold at record numbers with Adidas, flooding the market with Yeezys proved detrimental for the brand.

 

It turns out that limited production is what maintains the Yeezy cachet, so Adidas went back to producing Yeezys in limited quantities, gradually increasing production with demand. West's vision for Yeezy would take a long time to come true.

 

Gap (2020- 2022)

 

In 2020, West cut his Adidas deal short and jumped ship to partner with Gap Inc. for the same reasons he left Nike for Adidas. He signed a 10-year Yeezy Gap deal in 2021, with an option of renewal after five years.

 

Once again, Gap would allow West to open branded stores and bring prices down to make Yeezys more affordable and accessible for everyone.

 

However, the partnership didn't last long as West's lawyer recently stated that despite diligent efforts from Ye, Gap left them no choice but to end the deal due to non-compliance from the retail clothing giant. 

 

What's Next for Yeezy?

 

By the time Kanye West ended his contract with Adidas, the partnership had already made him a billionaire. In a recent interview, West said that he would cut ties with corporate entities and "go it alone" with the Yeezy brand.

 

West has publically stated that he would open stores around the world, starting with the first Yeezy brand store in Atlanta. He complained that both Gap Inc. and Adidas contractually failed to open permanent stores, despite him saving these brands and signing deals with them for that exact purpose.

 

West has also filed trademark requests in the U.S. for "YZYSPLY" so he can use it for his Yeezy brand stores.

 

This is another sign that West will likely open up his own Yeezy brand retail stores soon. His vision remains to bring a high-quality, high-fashion, utilitarian design to regular, non-fashion people so he can redesign the landscape of how people dress on a daily basis.

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