Home NEWS ENTERTAINMENT Adidas discussed buying the Yeezy name from Kanye West in 2018 to avoid staff being exposed to the rapper, report says

Adidas discussed buying the Yeezy name from Kanye West in 2018 to avoid staff being exposed to the rapper, report says

  • Adidas has been worried about Kanye West’s relationship around staff for years, per the WSJ.
  • Execs suggested spinning off the Yeezy brand or even buying the trademark outright in 2018, per the report.
  • Staff told the WSJ that Ye made anti-Semitic comments and watched pornography at work.

Current and former staff told the publication that both Adidas staffers and executives have been raising concerns for years about how the rapper, now known as Ye, treated workers at the company.

Ye sometimes reprimanded Adidas staff in front of their colleagues, made anti-Semitic comments, and watched pornography at work, the latter of which HR was alerted to in 2018, current and former workers told The Journal.

Former employees told the publication that staff also flagged concerns with executives following Ye’s TMZ interview in 2018 when he said that slavery “sounds like a choice.”

Adidas executives conducted a thorough review of the Yeezy partnership, including his request to be the company’s creative director, which they presented to Adidas’ board in October 2018, The Journal reported, citing documents. The executives listed staff’s “direct exposure” to Ye as a risk and even suggested rotating key staff to lessen the risk, the publication reported.

They also proposed limiting Ye’s exposure to the rest of the company by running Yeezy as a standalone brand or buying the Yeezy trademark from him to run the brand without him, The Journal reported. Under the deal, Ye licensed the trademark to Adidas for a 15% share of the sales, per The Journal.

Adidas and Ye did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Adidas announced in late October that it was cutting ties with Ye following a string of “hateful and dangerous” remarks made by the rapper, including wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt and making anti-Semitic remarks online.

Adidas said it expected to lose $246 million in profit this year after ending the partnership. But it still owns the designs for Yeezy footwear, and said earlier this month that it plans to release more Yeezys under its own branding. Ye, meanwhile, has said he plans to sell Balenciaga, Adidas, and Gap hoodies for $20 each after the companies cut ties with him.

Since Adidas ended its relationship with Ye, current and former workers have spoken out about how Ye interacted with staff there. This includes a bombshell report by Rolling Stone, in which former Yeezy and Adidas staff said that the sportswear company had ignored complaints of the rapper’s alleged misconduct.

This included Ye showing an explicit video of his former wife Kim Kardashian in a Yeezy creative team meeting, one former worker told Rolling Stone.

The Journal similarly reported that staff said they had raised concerns about Ye’s behavior to both senior leaders and HR managers over the years.

Adidas said last week that it was investigating Ye’s behavior.

“We have been and continue to be actively engaged in conversations with our employees about the events that lead to our decision to end the partnership,” an Adidas spokesperson told Insider at the time.


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