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Gap’s Partnership with Kanye West Off to an Unsettling Start

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Gap Inc. is riding the Kanye West roller coaster.

Shares of the San Francisco clothing giant slumped 6 percent on Monday following the rapper-turned-fashion-mogul’s chaotic first presidential campaign rally on Sunday in South Carolina, where he threatened to “walk away” from his Yeezy deals with both Gap and Adidas if he isn’t made a board member at each company.

“Risk or no risk of losing whatever deal possible, I am not on the board at Adidas. I am not on the board at Gap. And that has to change today or I walk away,” West said at the rally.

Gap Inc. did not immediately respond to Rivet’s request for a comment.

In June, West inked a 10-year deal with Gap for his Yeezy brand to launch a co-branded line of apparel and accessories next year. Under West’s creative direction, the new line will “deliver modern, elevated basics for men, women and kids at accessible price points.” A Yeezy spokesperson told Rivet certain products from the brand’s partnership with Gap will be produced in the U.S.

Under terms of the arrangement, Yeezy, which was valued at $2.9 billion in April, will receive royalties and potential equity related to sales goals.

Connecting with a cultural icon like West appeared to be a strategic step in the right direction for Gap, which has struggled to court millennial and Gen Z consumers. Gap’s stock prices jumped 42 percent the day the partnership was announced, according to Business Insider—a bout of positive news after the company reported a 50 percent dive in Q1 global net sales.

A series of wild card events has since played out.

A week after announcing the Yeezy Gap venture, West broke news on Twitter of plans to make a run for the White House. In an interview with Forbes, West, who supported President Trump in the 2016 election, said he was running under a new banner called the “Birthday Party” and likened how he would run his White House to Wakanda, the fictional metropolis where the blockbuster film “Black Panther” takes place.

The interview, along with missing the filing deadline for most states, raised doubts about West’s presidential plan. The rally, however, has stirred up concerns on social media about his well-being. During the rally, West claimed celebrated abolitionist Harriet Tubman never helped free slaves and shared private details about his relationship with wife Kim Kardashian West. At one point, West broke into tears.

On Monday, West posted a series of now-deleted tweets that took aim at his family, NBC, actor Shia LaBeouf and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

In a 2019 interview with Vogue, the 43-year-old rapper said he struggles with bipolar disorder and refrains from taking medication.

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