A teenage Kanye West worked at his local Gap in Chicago. Now, almost three decades and 140 million record sales later, West could help his old employer survive.
Gap announced Friday that it will partner with Yeezy, West's fashion brand, for a new clothing line that will be introduced in the first half of 2021. The Yeezy Gap line will include "modern, elevated basics for men, women and kids at accessible price points." The financial terms of the deal weren't revealed.
Gap shares soared 36% on the announcement Friday morning.
The Yeezy deal could give Gap a much-needed financial and creative boost. Gap has been struggling: Sales for the fiscal 2019 year that ended in February fell 1% to $16.4 billion, and Gap's then-interim-CEO called the year "challenging." The company has seen significant executive turnover including three CEOs in six years.
Coronavirus hasn't helped. Sales plummeted 43% in Gap's fiscal first quarter that ended May 2. About 90% of the company's 3,900 global stores, which include Old Navy and Banana Republic brands, were temporarily closed starting March 19.
For West, the partnership fulfills a long-term goal. In 2015, he summed up his fashion industry goals succinctly: to become "the Steve Jobs of Gap."
West has had great success in the fashion space. As of the fall the Yeezy brand was expected to top $1.3 billion in sales in 2019, according to the New York Times.
He became the first non-athlete to launch a full collaboration with Nike for the original Air Yeezy sneakers in 2009, and the brand's sneakers often go for several hundred dollars. His major partnership with Adidas that began in 2013 earned him raves and a reputation as a streetwear virtuoso.