DNA Explainer: Why did Adidas, Balenciaga and other brands cut ties with Kanye West

Reported By:DNA Web Team| Edited By: DNA Web Team |Source: DNA Web Desk |Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 12:55 PM IST

DNA Explainer: Why did Adidas, Balenciaga and other brands cut ties with Kanye West

Adidas has caved to pressure from customers and activist organisations to end its connection with US musician and designer Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), after he made a number of anti-Semitic comments on social media and in recent interviews. 

Major companies have been severing ties with Ye because of his “hateful and dangerous” comments and behaviour.

“Adidas does not tolerate anti-semitism 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,” the German sportswear brand said in a statement today. (Also Read: US hails India’s ‘incredible’ vaccine manufacturing capacity, calls it ‘major exporter of vaccines’)

“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.” The brand said this would have a short-term negative impact of up to €250 million on net income in 2022, given the “high seasonality of the fourth quarter”. A spokesperson for the Yeezy brand has been contacted for a comment.

Ye’s relationships with Balenciaga and Gap have already ended, and the Creative Artists Agency has also dumped him. Yeezy Gap products will no longer be sold on the specialised e-commerce site, according to a statement released by Gap on Tuesday. The company added that its “previous partner’s recent words and behaviour further emphasise why [it dissolved the Yeezy Gap partnership]”.

“Anti-semitism, racism and hate in any form are inexcusable and not tolerated in accordance with our values. On behalf of our customers, employees and shareholders, we are partnering with organisations that combat hate and discrimination,” the Gap statement continues.

Ye organised a surprise show for his own brand, Yeezy, during Paris Fashion Week, and sent a model down the catwalk wearing a T-shirt with the words “White Lives Matter.” This is when the issue started. Additionally, while sporting the T-shirts, the rapper and right-wing commentator Candace Owens posed for pictures.

Ye responded to industry criticism on social media by making a number of racial and abusive remarks, including more recent attacks on Jews. Ye is currently suspended from Twitter and Instagram, but he still posts on the self-described “free speech” social media platform Parler, which he just announced aspirations to acquire.

Adidas had previously refrained from commenting on disputes involving Ye, but the company declared in early October that it was examining the alliance. Customers pressed the German business to act immediately after bringing up historical connections between Adidas’s founders and the Nazi party. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which opposes anti-semitism and bigotry, initiated a campaign to urge Adidas to end the connection after video of Ye claiming “I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me” in a podcast interview appeared on Twitter.

Adidas employees also spoke out. “Coming off of the Adidas global week of inclusion, I am feeling anything but included. As a member of the Jewish community, I can no longer stay silent on behalf of the brand that employs me. Not saying anything, is saying everything,” said its director of trade marketing in a LinkedIn post, before Adidas severed ties with Ye. “We need to do better as a brand. We need to do better for our employees and we need to do better for our communities. Until Adidas takes a stand, I will not stand with Adidas.”

“Adidas likely wanted to act sooner but given the financial implications I suspect there were quite a number of parties internally they had to consult,” says Alan Hunt, partner at law firm Lewis Silkin.

On Friday, the rapper’s partnership with the premium brand Balenciaga came to an end, and pictures of him appearing in the fashion house’s most recent Paris Fashion Week show were taken down. Ye and creative director Demna have a long history of working together on creative projects, and they created the Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga line, which Balenciaga abandoned in July. In September, Gap declared the Yeezy Gap partnership to be over.

Beginning in 2013, Ye and Adidas partnered. The collaboration was renewed by Adidas in 2016, and the company referred to it as “the most significant partnership ever created between a non-athlete and an athletic brand.”

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