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Adidas Ends Partnership with Kanye West, Citing Antisemitism Hate Speech

Published: October 25, 2022
Rapper turned designer Kanye West, now known as Ye, walks past models after presenting his Fall/Winter 2015 partnership line with Adidas at New York Fashion Week on February 12, 2015. (Image: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo)

Adidas AG is terminating its partnership immediately with Kanye West, the sporting goods maker said on Tuesday, Oct. 25 after the American rapper and designer was seen reacting to a rash of offensive Antisemitic behavior.

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the German-based company said.

“Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” it said, referring to the rapper by his legal name.

A lawyer representing Kanye West did not respond to a request for comment.

Ending the partnership and the production of Yeezy branded products, as well as stopping all payments to Ye and his companies will “have a short-term negative impact” of up to $250 million” on Adidas’ net income this year, the company said, partially as the Christmas quarter tends to see greater demand usually.

A pair of Yeezy shoes are seen in a Foot Locker store on the day Adidas terminated its partnership with the American rapper and designer Kanye West, now known as Ye, in Garden City, New York, on October 25, 2022. (Image: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Adidas put the partnership under review earlier in October “after repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation.”

Ye has courted controversy in recent months by publicly ending major corporate tie-ups and due to outbursts on social media against other celebrities. His Twitter and Instagram accounts were restricted, with the social media platforms removing some of his online posts that users condemned as antisemitic.

In now-deleted Instagram posts from earlier this year, the multiple Grammy award-winning artist accused Adidas and U.S. apparel retailer Gap Inc of failing to build contractually promised permanent stores for products from his Yeezy fashion line.

He also accused Adidas of stealing his designs for its own products.

Gap and Ye ended their partnership in September. European fashion house Balenciaga has also cut ties with Ye, according to media reports.

Adidas poached Ye from rival Nike Inc in 2013 and agreed to a new long-term partnership in 2016 in what the company then called “the most significant partnership created between a non-athlete and a sports brand.”

The tie-up, which produced several hot-selling “Yeezy” branded Adidas sneakers that cost between $200 and $700, helped the German brand close the gap with Nike in the U.S. market.

Yeezy generates about 1.5 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in annual sales for Adidas, making up a little over 7 percent of its total revenue, according to estimates from Telsey Advisory Group.

Shares in Adidas, which cut its full-year forecast last week, were down about 3.2 percent. The group said it would provide more information as part of its upcoming Q3 earnings announcement on Nov. 9.

By Reuters. (Reporting by Mrinmay Dey and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Sriraj Kalluvila and Bernadette Baum)