BERLIN (AFP) – German sportswear giant Adidas said yesterday it was reconsidering its partnership with Kanye West after the United States (US) rap star reportedly became disgruntled with how the brand was marketing his products.
The artist now known as Ye has netted billions selling his Yeezy clothing range through the German company since 2015, but the collaboration had recently been dogged by tensions.
“After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review,” Adidas said in a statement.
In a recent Instagram message cited by US media outlets, West had accused Adidas of arranging marketing events and bringing back older styles without his approval.
He also said the brand had hired staff to work under him and organised a ‘Yeezy Day’ without his involvement.
West also sparked controversy this week when he was pictured wearing a ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt at Paris Fashion Week.
The artist was associated with Nike for years but broke away in 2013, lending his name to Adidas as they launched their first Yeezy shoe together in 2015 – a partnership that went on to make him a billionaire.
Along with Beyonce, Stella McCartney and Pharrell Williams, West’s has been one of the top names used by Adidas to boost sales, especially online.
Announcing the review, Adidas did not mention recent tensions, but said its partnership with the rapper had been “one of the most successful collaborations in our industry’s history” and was “rooted in mutual respect and shared values”.
West has made headlines in recent years for his psychiatric problems, controversial comments about slavery and support for former US president Donald Trump.
He was widely criticised for wearing the ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt, which was also shown as part of his collection in Paris.
The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ became a rallying cry for protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
Asked why he wore it, West said in a Fox News interview on Thursday, “I do certain things from a feeling, I like, just channel the energy, it just feels right.”
The Chicago-born star was for years part of one of the world’s most famous power couples thanks to his marriage to reality TV star Kim Kardashian. But Kardashian filed for divorce last year after US media reported the pair were living separately and dealing with “regular relationship issues”.
West and retail brand Gap also announced an end to a partnership last month, with the artist saying he had plans to open his own stores.
The announcement capped months of social media complaints from West, which included accusations that he had been left out of the creative process and criticisms of marketing delays.
“Gap left Ye no choice but to terminate their collaboration agreement because of Gap’s substantial noncompliance,” wrote the artist’s lawyer, Nicholas Gravante, in a letter.
However, the controversy around his business ventures has not dimmed West’s success in the music world, as the star continues to enjoy hits and praise from critics.
His album Donda was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Rap Album at the 2022 Grammys.