Adidas Reconsiders Kanye West Partnership

After outbursts, company questions 'mutual respect and shared values'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2022 5:36 PM CDT
Adidas Puts Kanye West Deal, Worth Billions, Under Review
Kanye West, second from the left, appears with models during the showing of the Kanye West Adidas fall collection in New York in 2015.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Under pressure over inflammatory and offensive remarks and actions by Kanye West—including wearing a "White Lives Matter" T-shirt at a fashion show—Adidas announced last week that it's rethinking their profitable arrangement and added an ominous postscript. "The Adidas-Yeezy partnership is one of the most successful collaborations in our industry's history," the company said, per the Washington Post. "We also recognize that all successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values." The rapper's Yeezy brand brings Adidas an estimated $2 billion a year, an analyst said.

West, whose legal name is now Ye, has been suspended from Instagram and Twitter in the past week over policy violations and rants about Jewish people. Other comments have generated backlash throughout the partnership, which began in 2013. He's also attacked the company, accusing it earlier this year of stealing his designs, per the Wall Street Journal. West ended his deal with Gap in September. Analysts said his most recent outbursts are hurting Adidas' reputation, and the anti-Semitic allegations pose a particular challenge to the company.

Adidas was founded by two members of the Nazi Party and once provided clothes for the Hitler Youth. "There’s a dark chapter in the company’s history, which the company clearly does not want people to talk about," said David Swartz, the analyst. "And this could bring that back." West isn't new to erratic behavior, however, and some fans think that's part of what makes him a genius, one who generates nearly 10% of Adidas revenue. But there's also a cost to ignoring the issue, analysts said. "If you go down the rabbit hole, and you accept, and accept, and accept, and you look the other way, then you are, in a sense, co-signing on the behavior implicitly," said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the Wharton School. (Read more Kanye West stories.)

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