Adidas severs ties with Kanye West over antisemitic remarks

The German sporting goods manufacturer shed more than 4% on the stock market and expects losses of up to $250 million on net income in 2022 after ending its association with the rapper now known as Ye

American rapper Kanye West, now known as Ye, during a fashion show for Adidas Originals.
American rapper Kanye West, now known as Ye, during a fashion show for Adidas Originals.CORDON PRESS

German sportswear giant Adidas has announced it is ending its collaboration with Kanye West following antisemitic and racist statements the rapper has made in recent weeks. Twitter and Instagram had blocked the singer’s accounts for violating their policies after he published posts against the Jewish community. Adidas said in a statement that it had made the decision to “terminate the partnership with Ye [West] immediately,” adding the German brand “does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. 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.” The move comes after several days of pressure on social media from human rights activists, including the Anti-Defamation League, to cut ties with the artist, who now goes by the name Ye.

Ye has been at the center of several controversial episodes in recent weeks, including appearing at a fashion show in Paris with a T-shirt that read “White lives matter,” a slogan used by white supremacist groups in the United States in response to the anti-racist movement Black Lives Matter. In the aftermath of that incident, the rapper said during an interview on the Drink Champs podcast that George Floyd died of drug use and not asphyxiation after he was stopped by a police officer in Mineappolis in 2020. The trial over Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer has become a turning point in the fight against law enforcement abuses in the United States. The officer who detained Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for kneeling on the victim’s neck for more than nine minutes while Floyd pleaded to be let up as he was suffocating.

Floyd’s family have announced they will file a defamation lawsuit against Ye, claiming $250 million in damages for suggesting a fentanyl overdose and not police violence was the cause of the 46-year-old’s death.

Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, at a fashion event in 2019.
Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, at a fashion event in 2019.Angela Weiss (AFP)

Companies race to sever ties

Adidas had been claiming for days that it was looking at the facts after placing its deal with Ye on “review” after the incident in Paris. Now, Adidas has decided to cut ties with the rapper completely. In its statement, the company states that “adidas is the sole owner of all design rights to existing products as well as previous and new colorways under the partnership” with the singer: a phrase that augurs a possible legal battle. Several other companies have sought to distance themselves from Ye recently, including CAA, the talent agency that represented him until Monday, fashion brand Balenciaga and production company MRC, which said it has shelved a documentary on the rapper.

Adidas shares fell by more than 4% after the company announced its split from the artist, having already posted a decline of 9.5% on the DAX after the manufacturer cut its profit forecasts for this year.

Ye has accused Adidas executives of “profiting at his expense” since he launched the Yeezy line in 2016, which includes several models of sneakers and sportswear collections in which the singer participates as a designer. Yeezy is one of the most in-demand brands on the market - and one of the most expensive. According to industry media, the collaboration between Adidas and Ye represents between 7% and 12% of the company’s total footwear turnover. According to analyst Omar Saad of Evercore ISI, the Yeezy line accounts for between $1 and $2 billion of Adidas’ annual sales. The decision to drop Ye, Adidas said, was “expected to have a short-term negative impact of up to €250 million on the company’s net income in 2022 given the high seasonality of the fourth quarter.”

A photograph has gone viral on social media in which a group of white supremacists is seen in Los Angeles with a sign that reads “Kanye is right about the Jews,” which has drawn condemnation in Germany and worldwide.

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