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A couple of years ago, 24-time Grammy winner Kanye West (aka “Ye”) made a deal with Gap to put his brand Yeezy on its shelves. The first round of the products the company rolled out was a puffy blue jacket that sold out in just a few hours. And in addition to the typical royalties expected for this kind of thing, Yeezy would also get some 8.5 million shares of stock as Gap met certain targets.
But now Ye is scrapping the deal. He said Thursday that he terminated the contract with Gap because it hadn’t been putting products in stores the way it said it would be. On top of that, Ye said that he felt shut out of the creative process (which, in fairness, is probably how Taylor Swift felt about her acceptance speech at the VMAs in 2009 after being so rudely interrupted by the self-proclaimed “genius” … but we digress). After the announcement, shares of Gap fell around 4%.
“Obviously there’s always struggles and back-and-forth when you’re trying to build something new and integrate teams,” said Ye on CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” (where he wore sunglasses that look like a 1965 depiction of 2022).
“Everyone knows that I’m the leader, I’m the king. A king can’t live in someone else’s castle. A king has to make his own castle.” (King Charles III respectfully disagrees, but again, we digress.)
This whole shift will be expensive, so according to Ye’s lawyer, Nicholas Gravante, the Yeezy company will be opening its own retail outlets to “make up for lost time”.
“While we share a vision of bringing high-quality, trend-forward, utilitarian design to all people through unique omni experiences with Yeezy Gap, how we work together to deliver this vision is not aligned,” said Gap CEO Mark Breitbard in a memo to employees. Now, Gap is going to essentially flush out the rest of the products in the pipeline and call it a day.
“I made the companies money. The companies made me money. We created ideas that will change apparel forever. Like the round jacket, the foam runner, the slides that have changed the shoe industry. Now it’s time for Ye to make the new industry. No more companies standing in between me and the audience,” Ye told Bloomberg.