CNN reports that West's attorney Nicholas Gravante said in a statement on Thursday, 15 September, that West was left with "no choice but to terminate their collaboration" because he alleges the retailer breached their partnership by not opening branded Yeezy stores and distributing his apparel as originally planned, among other issues.
“Gap’s substantial non-compliance with its contractual obligations has been costly,” Gravante also said. “Ye will now promptly move forward to make up for lost time by opening Yeezy retail stores.”
The termination follows months of public criticism of Gap from West via the artist's social media channels.
When the initial deal was announced in 2020, there were plans to merge Gap's clothing classics with West's Yeezy designs. The partnership had the possibility of lasting 10 years and Gap hoped it would generate more than $1bn in annual sales, according to The New York Times. Struggling retailer Gap also hoped the Yeezy partnership would attract younger shoppers and help revitalise interest in its ailing business.
AFP reports that West saw the collaboration as a way to increase the accessibility of his products, having previously put out limited series at high price points with financing from German sportswear brand Adidas - which West has also publicly criticised in recent months.
Gap has shared no public statement on the matter but in a letter to employees on Thursday, Gap brand CEO Mark Breitbard said that management had decided to "wind down the partnership" with West. "While we share a vision of bringing high-quality, trend-forward, utilitarian design to all people... how we work together to deliver this vision is not aligned," he said.
According to AFP's report, Breitbard clarified that several Yeezy Gap branded products already in development before the breakup would continue to be released "as planned."
In 2021, Yeezy Gap's debut item - the first of a series of puffer jackets - was launched in select US cities to mixed reviews. Early this year Yeezy Gap announced 'Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga', which brought Balenciaga artistic director Demna to the effort. The project’s most recent release, announced Thursday as news broke of West's exit, is a black keychain priced at $40.
As the partnership between Gap and West has now been severed, Gap will be permitted to sell existing Yeezy Gap products before retiring the brand name, and any merchandise made with West and Balenciaga sold at Gap will remain unimpacted.