Adidas will launch an investigation into the allegations that Kanye West played pornography to employees and exhibited other intimidating behaviour after former Adidas and Yeezy staff accused the rapper of manipulation and bullying.
Earlier this month, a report from Rolling Stone made allegations about the environment at Yeezy’s brand office, with ex-workers alleging a “cult-like atmosphere”. Days ago, in a follow-up report, more former staff members accused the rapper of bullying, including displaying porn and using “mind games”.
Among the claims, a potential collaborator alleged they were invited to West’s Hollywood Hills home to find him watching hardcore pornography and asking the designer’s opinion on it. West was also accused of showing intimate picture of then-wife Kim Kardashian to staff to a potential collaborator and an explicit video of her to employees.
In an open letter sent by several employees to Adidas’ CEO other executives at the company, West was accused of “years of verbal abuse, vulgar tirades, and bullying attacks” against staff. They also accused Adidas executives of turning a blind eye to West’s alleged behaviour.
“The most troubling behavior that should have been flagged by the executive team very early in the partnership is his manipulative and fear-based approach to leading the team, all while trying to assert dominance over Adidas employees in closed rooms,” the letter reads.
Kanye West did not respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone, and NME has reached out to his representatives.
Now, the Financial Times reports that Adidas aims to investigate the accusations of West’s misconduct after one of the company’s largest shareholders demanded answers about the alleged incidents.
According to FT, German asset manager Union Investment, which has a one per cent stake in Adidas and is one of its top 20 shareholders, wrote to Adidas this week requesting more information about the allegations.
“Adidas needs to disclose when the management and the supervisory board was first informed about the internal allegations,” Janne Werning, head of ESG Capital Markets & Stewardship at Union Investment, told FT.
In a statement by Adidas shared by FT, the company said that while it is “currently not clear whether the accusations made in an anonymous letter” were true, they “take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation of the matter immediately to address the allegations”.
West partnered with Adidas under the Yeezy banner in late 2013, with their first collection debuting in 2015. Last month, Adidas ended its long-running partnership with West and Yeezy over the rapper’s recent string of antisemitic comments, with the company calling his actions “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”.
Since then, Adidas has revealed it intends to sell Yeezy products without West’s branding, while West himself said he plans to sell Balenciaga, Adidas and Gap hoodies for $20 (£16.85) after each of the companies cut ties with him.