Photography: Evan Agostini / Invision / AP
Adidas ended its partnership with Kanye West, saying it “doesn’t tolerate anti-Semitism” after the rapper was suspended from Instagram and Twitter for offensive posts.
The German sports brand said the recent comments and actions of West, who officially changed his name to Ye, were “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous and violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness” .
The company said it would take a “short-term” hit of € 250 million (£ 217 million) on its income for this year after deciding to discontinue the brand’s business with immediate effect. It’s to end production of West’s Yeezy-branded items and stop all payments to the musician and his companies.
In 2020, the partnership brought nearly $ 1.7 billion in revenue for Adidas, according to Bloomberg, and was expected to expire in 2026.
The loss of revenue will be a major blow to Adidas, which recently warned that its profit margins and sales are taking a hit as inventory builds up in warehouses due to slowing consumer demand.
West’s personal fortune is also likely to take a hit, with Forbes reporting the artist is now worth $ 400 million, down from $ 2 billion on the magazine’s list of billionaires this year. West said the deal with Adidas was worth more than $ 4 billion and Forbes’ calculations were wrong.
West had previously been associated with Nike for years, releasing the Air Yeezy in 2009, but split in 2013, lending his name to Adidas instead. They launched their first Yeezy shoe together in 2015, a partnership that helped make him a billionaire.
The collaboration – which appears to have been removed from the Adidas website with immediate effect – included sportswear, jackets and trainers. However, it was the Yeezy Boost trainer that attracted high queues and price tags for both new and used.
Adidas questioned the deal after West’s controversial Paris show earlier this month in which models took to the runway wearing “White Lives Matter” T-shirts.
A few days ago, the brand launched a new version of the Yeezy Boost 350 v2 in a new color before ending the relationship on Tuesday.
The brand has claimed to be the sole owner of all design rights to existing products, as well as previous and new color variations under the Yeezy partnership.
Analysts said the statement indicated Adidas would likely attempt to re-launch popular Yeezy products under a different brand, but it was unclear whether this could replace the lost profits.
Adidas’s move comes after Balenciaga, Gap and JPMorgan Chase all severed ties with West after repeated anti-Semitic remarks. The rapper’s longtime talent agency, CAA, has stopped representing him in the past month, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The rapper recently claimed Adidas couldn’t drop him, despite his comments fueling calls for a boycott. The remarks also prompted the Anti-Defamation League to ask Adidas to end its business with West.
West has a history of courtship controversy, including an interrupted presidential race in 2020, and says slavery was a “choice”. However, the rapper, who is bipolar, has had limited repercussions on past comments until recently.
Twitter blocked West’s account on October 9 after removing one of his tweets saying he was “going to death with 3 on the Jewish people”. The platform claimed to have violated its anti-hate speech policies.
Facebook owner Meta restricted West’s Instagram account on October 7 after the rapper posted an anti-Semitic post in which he appeared to suggest rapper Diddy was controlled by Jews – an anti-Semitic trope.
The chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany on Tuesday said the sportswear manufacturer had a special responsibility in cutting ties to the West, given its history in the Nazi era.
“Adidas faces its historic responsibility not only as a German company, but also as a company that has been involved in and profited from the National Socialist dictatorship,” Josef Schuster told the tabloid newspaper Bild.
“Since then, Adidas has done a lot to distance itself from its past,” added Schuster. “If this is to be credible, then it is imperative to sever ties with Kanye West. Not the best sneaker can be worth being linked to the depths into which this artist has descended ”.