Adidas’ chief executive and other senior figures at the company talked about the potential fallout from its relationship with Kanye West as long as four years ago, it has been reported.
Last week, an open letter from members of staff at Yeezy and Adidas accused West of using porn and “mind games” to bully and manipulate other workers there.
In the letter sent by several employees to Adidas’ CEO Kasper Rorsted and executives, West was accused of “years of verbal abuse, vulgar tirades, and bullying attacks” against staff. They also accused Adidas execs of turning a blind eye to West’s alleged behaviour.
It came after a report from Rolling Stone made claims over the treatment of employees at Yeezy, with some ex-staff alleging a “cult-like atmosphere” at the brand’s office. Rolling Stone was unable to contact Kanye West for the article.
The Financial Times has since reported that Adidas was aiming to investigate the accusations of West’s misconduct after one of the company’s largest shareholders demanded answers about the alleged past incidents.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Adidas said: “It is currently not clear whether the accusations made in an anonymous letter are true. However, we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation of the matter immediately to address the allegations.”
Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, a group of employees had outlined the risks that they faced by interacting with West during a presentation to the Adidas executive board in 2018. It is said that the presentation included numerous of mitigation strategies, including severing ties with Ye (via CNBC).
The WSJ claimed that the group included Rorsted, and the head of human resources.
However, it’s reported that Adidas execs did not cut ties with the rapper when concerns were first raised, and continued to work with him in a bid to keep hold of the partnership. Adidas is said have made $2billion a year through its collaboration with West.
Adidas ended its long-running partnership with West and Yeezy in October over the ‘DONDA’ star’s recent string of antisemitic comments, with the brand calling his actions “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”.
Since then, Adidas has revealed it plans to sell Yeezy products without Ye’s branding. West, meanwhile, said he intends to sell Balenciaga, Adidas and Gap hoodies for $20 (£16.85) after each of the companies cut ties with him.
West partnered with Adidas under the Yeezy banner in late 2013; their first joint collection then debuted in 2015.