The Rise and Fall of Ye x Adidas Collab Emily Downie October 27, 2022 MESSFashion The turbulent partnership between Kanye West and Adidas has finally come to an end. Since the beginning of their collaboration in 2015, the world has witnessed several problematic incidents involving West during this time up to the present. Many have been outraged that despite all of this controversy, the brand has maintained their association with the rapper. West has recently made repeated antisemitic responses, which in turn has generated some worrying support. He also sported ‘White Lives Matter’ apparel during Paris Fashion Week, leading to attendees of the show leaving out of protest and disgust. It is only after these recent incidents that Adidas has finally cut ties with West. But how did their relationship actually unfold? 2015 The collaboration first kicked off when West debuted his first Adidas shoe at the 2015 Grammy Awards by sporting the new Yeezy 750 Boost – he returned to the stage to perform after a six year absence. This same year the Yeezy Season 1 line debuted at New York Fashion Week, including the famous Adidas Yeezy Boost 350. In December of that year, West received an award for ‘Shoe of the Year’ at the FN Achievement Awards, giving a 20 minute long speech that covered some seemingly unrelated topics, including Taylor Swift. That same month, West released a track that took aim at Nike, with whom he was formerly partnered; lyrics boasted of his Adidas shoe success that overtook the success of the famous Nike Air Jordan line. Image courtesy of footwearnews.com 2016 Adidas announced their extended partnership with the artist, stating that the alliance was “the most significant partnership ever created between a non-athlete and an athletic brand.” Former President of Adidas Group North America, Mark King, raved about West’s positive impact on Adidas, stating that his creative input influenced by his own music, design and culture as an artist has in turn allowed the brand to look at creativity both in terms of sports and culture. HOLLYWOOD, CA – JUNE 28: Kanye West at Milk Studios on June 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. adidas and Kanye West announce the future of their partnership: adidas + KANYE WEST (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ADIDAS) 2017 West gifts wife at the time, Kim Kardashian, with shares of $200,000 in the company for Christmas. 2018 West brings controversial politics into the limelight when he takes a trip to the White House and meets with president at the time Donald Trump, first daughter Ivanka Trump and senior advisor Jared Kushner. This caused a huge stir across social media and was one of the first big controversial moments Kanye was involved in throughout the Ye x Adidas partnership. Adidas CEO, Kasper Rorsted, responded to this by claiming that the brand would support the artist’s freedom to have his own opinions and views, whether they are agreed with by many or not, but that they would not support every political statement he puts out into the world. Image courtesy of Rolling Stone/Twitter 2019 The rapper publicly states, in an interview with Hood by Air founder Shayne Oliver, that he has been fighting with Adidas to be made creative director of the brand. In September, West was ranked No.1 on Forbes’ list of the highest paid hip-hop artists of that year, largely due in part to his booming sneaker empire. 2020 On Independence Day, West announces via Twitter he will be running for President of the United States. 2021 In 2021 Ye x Adidas released the Adidas Yeezy 450 sneakers which, according to Lyst at the time, are the “hottest men’s product in the world”. Image courtesy of Farfetch 2022 West accuses Adidas of stealing some of his Yeezy designs for other shoe designs within the brand. He demands to speak to Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted, sharing a photo of the Adidas Adilette 22 and calling it a “fake Yeezy”. When Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted announces he will be stepping down from his role with the brand, West mocks this with a fake newspaper headline posted on Instagram, titled “Kasper Rorsted Also Dead at 60”. Image courtesy of Daily Mail/Kanye West/Instagram Later on this year, West again accuses Adidas of stealing his own creative designs, alongside other accusations of the brand not giving him enough say over his own products and the freedom to open up Yeezy stores without approval needed from the brand. This is followed by a demand to be paid $2 billion in damages by Adidas. The brand puts their partnership under review and attempts to handle this privately with the artist despite continuous public statements posted online by West concerning the drama. Adidas’ claim that they are attempting to resolve this comes days after West’s extremely controversial fashion statement: the artist sported long-sleeved shirts with the words “White Lives Matter” printed on the back at a Paris Fashion Week runway show. This horrific occurrence caused attendees to leave the show. Many vocalised their outrage on social media – for example, Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson said it was “deeply offensive and dangerous”. In response to this, West took to Instagram to insult Karefa-Johnson and her fashion choices. Many rose to Karefa-Johnson’s defence, including supermodel Gigi Hadid, who responded to West via Instagram: “You wish you had a percentage of her intellect”, as well as calling him a “bully” and a “joke”. Countless big brands begin to cut ties with the artist, including the likes of Vogue and Balenciaga. West makes anti-semitic statements online that spark outrage across the media and terrifyingly receives some support – anti-semitic protesters are spotted on a bridge over Intersate 405, doing the Nazi salute and holding signs that cite West’s comments, followed by the words “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews”. The hashtag “#boycottadidas” continues to grow as people’s anger with the brand blows to new proportions following this shocking anti-semitism. Adidas finally cuts ties with West on October 25th, in a statement to FN that reads “Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism 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”.