Kanye West and retail brand Gap announced the end of their partnership on Thursday, with the artist, now known as Ye, saying he plans to open his own stores.

“GAP left Ye no choice but to terminate the cooperation agreement due to material non-compliance with GAP requirements,”

wrote the artist’s lawyer Nicolas Gravante in a letter, elements of which were seen by AFP.

In 2020, the rapper, producer, fashion designer and mercurial inked a high-profile deal with Gap, planning to combine the struggling retailer’s clothing classics with West’s Yeezy designs.

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In a letter to employees on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, Gap brand CEO Mark Breitbard said management had decided “end partnership” with the West.

“While we share a vision of delivering high-quality, forward-thinking, utilitarian design for all people…how we work together to realize that vision is not the same,”

he said.

What’s happening with Yeezy Gap brand products?

Breitbard clarified that several Yeezy Gap-branded products that were in development prior to the breakup will continue, “as planned”.

Wall Street did not take the news well, with Gap shares down nearly three percent by around 5pm GMT.

The announcement caps months of complaints against West on social media, which have included accusations of being left out of the creative process and criticism of sales delays.

Gravante said the West has “carefully” tried to solve problems with the company, but “He wasn’t going anywhere.”

“GAP’s significant failure to meet its contractual obligations has been costly,” he continued. “Now you’re fast-forwarding to make up for lost time by opening Yeezy retail stores.”

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The relationship between the GAP and the West

According to The New York Times, Gap expected $1 billion from Yeezy products alone within five years of the ten-year signed partnership.

West saw the collaboration as a way to increase the availability of his products, having previously released high-priced limited editions with funding from German brand Adidas, which the rapper has also criticized in recent months.

His 2022 collection echoed West’s own style of dark, baggy clothing and variations on the hooded sweatshirt that was once Gap’s signature piece.

Gap Inc also owns the Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta brands.

After fading in popularity over the years, the company closed about 350 Gap and Banana Republic stores as of October 2020.

© Agence France-Presse

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