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Adidas severs ties with Kanye West following antisemitic comments

Sportswear giant Adidas has terminated its partnership with Kanye West (now known as Ye) and his Yeezy brand, effective immediately. The announcement follows mounting pressure on Adidas from the public and company employees to condemn West's recent antisemitic remarks and renounce the brand's seven-year partnership with the controversial musician and fashion designer.
Adidas Yeezy Boost sneakers. Source:
Adidas Yeezy Boost sneakers. Source: 123RF

"Adidas 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.

"After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect," Adidas said in a statement.

Adidas expects to lose up to $246m in net income this year as a result of the termination of the partnership, which it just recently described as "one of the most successful collaborations in our industry's history".

Adidas noted in its statement that it is the sole owner of all design rights to existing products as well as previous and new colourways under the Yeezy partnership.

Yeezy is one of Adidas’ most successful brand partnerships. As TMZ reports, Adidas and West began their partnership in 2013, and his Yeezy brand is widely credited with reinvigorating the Adidas footwear business. Adidas' backing allowed West to expand Yeezy beyond sneakers, and Adidas was the distributor and manufacturer of Yeezy shoes and athletic gear.

String of controversy

Earlier this month, the German sportswear brand announced that it put its multibillion-dollar distribution deal with the Yeezy line "under review" after West wore a "White Lives Matter" t-shirt design at Paris Fashion Week. He had also accused Adidas of copying his ideas and mismanaging the Yeezy brand, and taunted outgoing Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted on social media.

Days after the Paris Fashion Week stunt, West was locked out of Twitter and Instagram for threatening to "Go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE". He has given multiple interviews with remarks disparaging Jewish people, and also boasted on a now-removed episode of the podcast Drink Champs: “I can say antisemitic things, and [Adidas] can’t drop me.”

Over the weekend a banner was hoisted over a busy Los Angeles freeway that read "Kanye is right about the Jews" and "Honk if you know", while several activists were photographed making "Heil Hitler" salutes, AFP reports.

The hashtag #BoycottAdidas has been trending on Twitter.

Brands distance themselves

West's increasingly controversial public profile also led luxury goods giant Kering to announce last week that Balenciaga has split ways with West stating, “Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist.”

West and Gap also “wound down” their decade-long brand partnership after he accused the retailer of breaching its contract. Film and TV producer MRC has announced it will be shelving an already-finished documentary about West.

West's ex-wife Kim Kardashian tweeted on Monday, "Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end."


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