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Kanye West’s Instagram Ban Is an ‘Unwanted Distraction’ for Gap

The retailer’s Instagram posts are filled with comments asking the company to end its partnership with the musician following his use of a racial slur and concerns over treatment of his ex-wife.
Gap's partnership with Kanye West's Yeezy has brought the brand media attention.
Gap's partnership with Kanye West has brought the company lots of media attention. (Shutterstock)

Gap Inc.’s buzzy deal with Kanye West’s Yeezy label included an early hit and a collaboration with the Kering-owned French fashion house Balenciaga. But as the musician’s personal life captures the public eye, Gap’s Instagram posts are now filled with comments imploring the company to end the partnership.

West, who last year changed his name to Ye, was served a 24-hour suspension from Instagram after he directed a racial slur at “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah. The temporary ban, which went into effect late Wednesday night, came after Noah used a portion of his show to express concern about Ye’s treatment of his ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her boyfriend, the comedian Pete Davidson. Noah’s nine-and-a-half minute monologue went viral on Twitter shortly after it was posted to the show account.

The Instagram ban comes just three weeks after Gap unveiled the latest installment in a 10-year deal inked with Ye in 2020 to design and sell clothing under the Yeezy Gap label. Gap’s Yeezy deal is estimated to be valued at as much as $970 million.

The Yeezy Gap clothes are sold on a dedicated website, separate from the Gap home page. But that hasn’t stopped the public ire directed toward Gap’s social media accounts.

Gap didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

David Swartz, an equity analyst with the investment firm Morningstar, said there’s a “definite risk” that Ye’s “bad behavior will create unwanted publicity for Gap and, possibly, that Gap will have to disassociate from him.”

That would be both an image “problem and damage Gap’s turnaround plan,” Swartz said, while adding that the bulk of the company’s business, which is bolstered by sales from Old Navy and Athleta brands, likely wouldn’t face reputational damage.

“Investors might react positively if Gap did cut ties with Ye, since he could become an unwanted distraction,” Swartz said.

While Ye’s treatment of Kardashian has been talked about on social media for weeks, it looks like Noah’s monologue, and Ye’s subsequent ban from Instagram, could serve as a tipping point that prompts corporate executives to start responding, said Davia Temin, the founder and chief executive officer of management-consultancy company Temin & Co.

“The association that your brand has with somebody who’s an endorser or somebody who is your brand ambassador — if that brand ambassador gets tarnished rightfully or wrongly, unfortunately, that rebounds on your brand,” she said.

By Ella Ceron

Learn More:

Kanye West and Gap Have Billion-Dollar Ambitions for Yeezy Deal

The value of the new tie-up, which will hit stores this summer, could be worth as much as $970 million.


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