By Deborah Marie Sophia and Uday Sampath Kumar
(Reuters) – Lawyers for Kanye West on Thursday sent a letter to Gap Inc (NYSE) notifying the clothing chain that the rapper and fashion designer had ended its partnership with the company, saying it had failed to meet its contract obligations.
The letter, seen by Reuters, said Gap violated its agreement with West not to sell Yeezy Gap-branded products in its brick-and-mortar outlets and failed to open stores dedicated to the brand.
The letter said the company could sell existing Yeezy Gap shares until the sale period. Shares in parent company Banana Republic closed 3.6% lower on Thursday.
Gap declined to comment on the matter.
West, better known as Ye, in 2020 signed a 10-year deal with Gap to create a line of clothing under the Yeezy Gap brand. The first product of the line – a blue inflatable jacket – sold out within hours of its June 2021 launch.
West’s attorney Nicholas Gravante Jr. said: “Gap (Kanye) was left with no choice but to terminate their agreement… Yee will now act immediately to make up for lost time by opening the Yeezy Stores.”
However, Gapbrand President and CEO Mark Breitbard said in an internal memo seen by Reuters that the company is ending the partnership with Kanye because the two parties disagree on how to work together to achieve their vision.
Relations between the West and Gap have become increasingly strained in recent times. Earlier this month, West threatened to walk away from the brand. (https://on.wsj.com/3eUovP9)
“Kanye’s decision…would be a blow to the brand, which has pinned its hopes on Kanye’s magic to help revitalize interest in its faltering business,” said Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData.
Gap struggles to protect margins and attract sales, blaming inflation and outdated patterns for its Old Navy brand.