After making his catwalk debut at Balenciaga’s Paris Fashion Week show over the weekend, Kanye West introduced his latest Yeezy line with his Yzy Season 9 event on Monday.
During the live-streamed presentation, the rapper wore a longsleeve shirt with the words “White Lives Matter” emblazoned on the back. As Rolling Stone points out, the phrase – an appropriation of the Black Lives Matter slogan used to protest racial injustice, discrimination and police brutality – has been adopted by white supremacist organisations in recent years, and is categorised by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate slogan.
While at the event, West was photographed standing next to conservative Black commentator Candace Owens – who has been vocally critical of the Black Lives Matter movement – who was also wearing a shirt with the words “White Lives Matter” on the back.
Kanye West and Candace Owens wearing “White Lives Matter” shirts at his fashion show in Paris. pic.twitter.com/eJekZ8cGhe
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) October 3, 2022
After photos emerged from the event, artists such as Jaden Smith and Boosie responded to West’s controversial choice of attire. The former shared a series of Tweets explaining that he left West’s event because he didn’t “feel the message”, declaring that “Black Lives Matter” and “True Leaders Lead”.
In a sternly worded Tweet of his own, too, Boosie wrote: “AFTER ALL WE BEEN THROUGH AS A RACE YOU PUT THIS DISRESPECTFUL SHIT ON. U GIVES NO FUCKS ABOUT HOW BLACKS HAVE DIED N SUFFERED TO THE HANDS OF THE WHITE MAN. N U SAY BUSH DONT LIKE BLACK PEOPLE.. REALLY ‘N****’.”
@kanyewest AFTER ALL WE BEEN THROUGH AS A RACE YOU PUT THIS DISRESPECTFUL SHIT ON‼️U GIVES NO FUCKS ABOUT HOW BLACKS HAVE DIED N SUFFERED TO THE HANDS OF THE WHITE MAN😞 N U SAY BUSH DONT LIKE BLACK PEOPLE.. REALLY “NIGGA”
— Boosie BadAzz (@BOOSIEOFFICIAL) October 3, 2022
West has a long history of making controversial statements when it comes to politics and race in recent years, particularly in 2018. That year, he voiced his support for Donald Trump (publicly wearing the campaign’s red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat on several occasions) and endorsed Owens on Twitter.
West also drew backlash in April 2018 when he claimed, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years… for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” A few months later, in August of that year, West apologised for both his comments around slavery and his choice to wear the MAGA hat.
Elsewhere during the Yzy Season 9 event, one of West’s recent collaborations with James Blake, ‘Always’, was played over the speakers. Footage emerged last week of West playing the song in London. “It’s my birthday and [West] is playing tracks we made I’m good for presents thanks,” Blake tweeted at the time, revealing it was one of three the pair had created together.
West walked for Balenciaga on Sunday (October 2) for the luxury fashion company’s Paris Fashion Walk show, making a surprise appearance by strutting down the catwalk in a boxy black jacket and trouser combo.
Last month, West filed a number of new trademarks to expand his Donda Sports clothing brand, formally severed ties with Gap and hit out at the head of Adidas, revealing his plans to go solo in the fashion sphere.