Just hours after news broke that Kanye West‘s attorneys sent a letter to The Gap notifying the retail chain that he intended to end their tumultuous two-year relationship, Ye went on CNBC to explain the dissolution of his high-profile fashion foray.
“It was always a dream of mine to be at the Gap and to bring the best product possible to the masses, and I always talked to them about doing products for $20 — like the best products in the world, designed to the same level of the top fashion houses in the world, at $20 for the people,” said West, who appeared on Closing Bell wearing a long-sleeve white shirt, ragged baseball hat and oversized, mirrored face-shield sunglasses. “And so we went through three years, and honestly there’s always [those] struggles and back-and-forth when you’re trying to build something new and integrate teams.”
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West said his team’s designs were rolled-out at confusing, and conflicting, price points. “And then they actually took one of the shirts and sold it for $19. So [they] didn’t price my stuff — they took my stuff and sold it for like $200 and above their whole price point normally and did the exact shirt for $20,” he said.
Mirroring another deal point mentioned in his lawyer’s note to the Gap that led to the break-up, West said that instead of the anticipated Yeezy retail stores, The Gap did “pop-ups,” which was not what he agreed to; at press time The Gap had not responded to Billboard‘s request for comment on the split. “And they just ignored us about building stores constantly. It was very frustrating. It was very disheartening,” Ye said. “Because I just put everything I had. I put all of my top relationships. I went and got Demna [Gvasalia], the lead designer of Balenciaga, which is one of the hottest brands in the world. He does couture, and with that relationship he ended up working on a Gap collection for me [Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga].”
Perhaps most frustrating for West was what he described as a poor communication channel with the brand, to the point that he said he felt ignored during meetings. “And sometimes I would talk to the guys, the heads of — the leaders — and it was like I was on mute or something,” West said. “They totally — our agenda, it wasn’t aligned.”
West also talked about how his family — who he identified as “garmentos” [someone how involved in the fashion business] — would cut up Louis Vuitton bags and make them into “bootleg” jogging suits as well as making their own Cross Colors outfits. For that reason, he said, the meltdown of the Gap collab just means that now he will build his own clothing commonwealth.
“And everyone knows that I’m the leader. I’m the king, right?” he said. “So a king can’t live in someone else’s castle. A king has to make his own castle.”
“Gap’s substantial noncompliance with its contractual obligations has been costly,” West’s lawyer Nicholas Gravante told CNN in a statement on Thursday (Sept. 15). “Ye will now promptly move forward to make up for lost time by opening Yeezy retail stores.” Gravante said that Kanye was left with “no choice but to terminate their collaboration” after the chain reportedly failed to open Yeezy-branded stores.
The partnership was originally announced in June 2020 and included the release of a number of fast-selling, buzzy items, but according to a Wall Street Journal report on the split the Gap was required to sell 40% of Yeezy Gap product in its retail stores during the third and fourth quarters of 2021, which reportedly did not happen.
West recently unleashed a string of harsh commentary on his social media accounts lambasting his deal with The Gap as well as one with Adidas, claiming, as he did in the CNBC interview, that the Gap allegedly copied his designs and left him out of creative decisions and meetings. Despite the reported split, the WSJ reported that existing Yeezy Gap items will continue to be sold in Gap stores while supplies last, noting that merchandise made in collaboration with fashion house Balenciaga also sold through the Gap will not be affected.
Watch Ye on Closing Bell below.