Why people are urging Gap to cut ties with Kanye West

The rapper, who's now known as Ye, signed a 10-year million-dollar deal with the American brand in 2020

Ye's private life and his public reaction to his divorce from Kim Kardashian threaten to spill over into his business collaboration with Gap. AFP
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Hours after Instagram suspended Kanye West for 24 hours for violating its policy against hate speech, harassment and bullying, social media users flooded the comments section of fashion label Gap's account, imploring the brand to sever ties with the rapper.

Ye, as West is now legally known, signed a 10-year agreement in 2020 to design and sell clothes under the Yeezy Gap label. The deal, rumoured to be worth about $970 million according to Bloomberg, has so far produced two collections, with a third, the Yeezy Gap X Balenciaga collaboration, unveiled in February. All collections have sold out minutes after launch.

But Ye's imploding private life and his very public reaction to his divorce from Kim Kardashian has captured headlines over the past few weeks.

Kardashian, 41, filed for divorce a year ago. Two months later, Ye, 44, filed his response, which agreed on all the major points, including child custody. Neither discussed the split publicly, until recently, when Ye started lashing out on social media against Kardashian, her family, and boyfriend Pete Davidson.

The latest flashpoint came after South African comedian and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah dedicated a segment to Ye's public outbursts, calling what Kardashian is going through as "terrifying".

"You may not feel sorry for Kim because she’s rich and famous, because of the way she dresses, because she appropriates black culture, because she tells women they’re lazy, broke the internet and then didn’t put it back together, whatever, you hate her," Noah said during the segment, which was uploaded on YouTube on Wednesday.

"But what she's going through is terrifying to watch and shines a spotlight on what so many women go through when they choose to leave. It makes you uncomfortable."

Noah then spoke about his own experience with domestic violence, saying his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo, was told she was “overreacting” but was ultimately shot in the head by his stepfather in 2009. Nombuyiselo survived the attack.

West reacted to the video by posting a screen grab of Noah's Google search result, captioning the image with the lyrics to Kumbaya, replacing the word kumbaya with a racial slur.

Instagram then suspended Ye's account for 24 hours, saying the caption "violated Instagram's policies on hate speech, harassment and bullying". Ye was barred during this period from posting, commenting or sending DMs.

Kim Kardashian has said, about her divorce from Kanye West, that he 'continues to make it impossible every step of the way'. Reuters

Following the suspension, Gap's Instagram account was then flooded with comments, with users asking the brand to cut ties with Ye.

"I hope gap cuts ties with Kanye west ASAP. He is abusing his ex publicly and doesn’t deserve to be supported by huge companies while doing so. Set an example that Gap won’t tolerate this type of behaviour. Until then, no more Gap for me and my family," one user wrote.

"Get rid of Kanye," another commented.

"Please don’t devalue Gap anymore with your Yeezy collab," said one post.

But the comments have now also been flooded by fans of Ye, with messages of support for the rapper.

"Ye is the only reason people buy Gap," one said.

"I never followed Gap ... I had to look for this to comment ... Keep Yeezy. You need genius in business," said another fan.

In February, Kardashian herself posted a lengthy statement on Instagram, calling the constant attacks "hurtful".

"Divorce is difficult enough on our children and Kanye's obsession with trying to control and manipulate our situation so negatively and publicly is only causing further pain for all," she wrote. "From the beginning, I have wanted nothing but a healthy relationship because it is what is best for our children and it saddens me that Kanye continues to make it impossible every step of the way."

Earlier this month, Kardashian was legally declared single by a Los Angeles judge and formally dropped West as her last name.

Hours after the decision, Ye posted the video of the song Eazy on Instagram, in which he buries alive a cartoon figure resembling Davidson, who he refers to as "Skete".

The video ends with the words, "Everyone lived happily ever after, except Skete", which is crossed out, with "you know who" written underneath. The next screen then says, "Joke, he's fine".

Updated: March 18, 2022, 10:04 AM