“I want to be the Steve Jobs of the Gap,” Ye, born Kanye West, told Style.com in 2015; five years later, in the summer of 2020, the rapper and designer wanted ink a reported decade-long contract with the mall, which has struggled to adapt to a digitally dominated retail landscape. Since then, Yeezy Gap has seen the highly hyped launches and mostly successful sales of geometry-bending puffer jackets, “perfect” hoodiesand a capsule collaboration with the French fashion house Balenciaga.
Now, two years into the deal, Ye’s lawyers have sent a letter to Gap notifying the company that his Yeezy LLC is terminating the deal, citing the retailer’s failure to release clothing or open brick-and-mortar stores as planned, according to a report published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal.
While such a definitive expression of a desire to cut ties might be surprising, it’s not exactly unexpected: Ye has been particularly outspoken about his corporate partners of late. On Tuesday, he told Bloomberg that he was ready to “go it alone” and nix his ongoing deals with Gap and Adidas, after accusing both companies of various violations, including copy his designs and limits fire growth, in recent weeks. Plus, like that New York Times reported back in 2020, Ye and Gap’s original contract included the option to renew or opt out after five years, though they’re still a few years short of that benchmark. (Yes’s 10-year deal with Adidas expires in 2026.)
The letter comes not long after the Gap premiered the partnership’s first personal retail concept back in July with a Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga pop-up at its flagship store in Times Square. Ye has been vocal about his desire for his product to be available to shop in person: in Julyhe wrote in a now-deleted Instagram caption that he “came to Gap to put a great product directly in stores,” adding in early September, in an also-now-deleted video that he wants the retailer to “put Ye’s crap in front” of the store. (A nod, perhaps to his College dropout song “Spaceship.”) His lawyers cite an inadequate response to this initiative; per WSJ report, Gap was required under the agreement to open as many as five retail stores dedicated to showcasing Yeezy Gap products by July 31, 2023, according to the letter. To date, the letter claims, Gap has not opened a dedicated store.
As of press time Thursday afternoon, Gap has not responded to a request for comment. Meanwhile, Ye’s personal Instagram feed is still full of photos of his galactic “YZY SHDZ” sunglasses, which look like a paper-thin swipe of silvery mercury applied to one’s head by an elastic cord, which has thus far been advertised as a product of the Yeezy Gap partnership . (The design also resembles the futuristic spoof shades worn by Christopher Lloyd’s Dr. Emmett Brown character in Back to the Future Part II.) As recently as September 9, a representative for Yeezy Gap sent out a press release featuring trademark photos featuring model Candice Swanepoel in a pair of YZY SHDZ, shot by photographer and longtime Ye collaborator Nick Knight. Yes posted the same picture on Instagram, without the Yeezy Gap logo.