Adidas terminated its long-running partnership deal with Kanye West last month, but the company has revealed it intends to sell Yeezy products without West’s branding.
As Insider reports, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Harm Ohlmeyer, announced during a quarterly earnings call on Wednesday (9th November) that Adidas is the “sole owner of all design rights registered to existing product”.
Ohlmeyer added that the company intends to “make use of these rights” as early as next year, but did not elaborate on Adidas’ plans. “We need to take our time to review what the best options are,” he said. “When the time is right we will be more concrete.”
One exception to Ohlmeyer’s assertion could be West’s Yeezy Slide sandals range, for which West acquired a patent in 2020. In June of this year, after Adidas released their own Adilette 22 sandals, West accused the company of plagiarising him, calling the shoe “a fake Yeezy made by Adidas themselves”.
West partnered with Adidas under the Yeezy banner in late 2013, with their first collection debuting in 2015. Under the terms of their agreement, it was stipulated that West would retain 100 per cent ownership of Yeezy, with full creative control over products released through the brand.
This year in particular, West has had a rocky relationship with Adidas. In September, the rapper hit out at the sportswear brand’s chief, Kasper Rørsted, sharing a fake New York Times article on Instagram with a headline announcing Rørsted’s death.
Last month, after West sparked controversy by wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt during his Yeezy season nine show at Paris Fashion Week, Adidas said it had placed their partnership with the rapper “under review”. West responded in a since-deleted Instagram post, writing: “FUUUUUUCK ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS.”
On October 25, after West publicly made a string of antisemitic comments, Adidas officially terminated their partnership with the rapper, calling his inflammatory statements “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous” in a statement.
“Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the statement continued. “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.”
Adidas is one of several companies to end their association with West due to his antisemitic remarks in recent weeks. Balenciaga – who West walked the runway for at last month’s Paris Fashion Week – have also cut ties with the rapper. JPMorgan Chase decided to “end its banking relationship” with West, and he was also reportedly dropped by his lawyer and talent agency.
An episode of the Drink Champs podcast – in which West made false, inflammatory claims about the murder of George Floyd – was pulled shortly after it was released, and an episode of LeBron James’ talk show The Shop, set to feature an interview with West, did not air.
Additionally, athletes Jaylen Brown and Aaron Donald left West’s Donda Sports agency, his Yeezy products were removed from Gap stores, and his Donda Academy closed. His behaviour over the last month has also resulted in widespread condemnation from his peers, including John Legend, Diddy, Ice Cube, Eric André and many others.