Nike execs warned Adidas that Kanye West was difficult to work with – but the sportswear brand partnered with him anyway, a report says
- Adidas ignored warnings from Nike that Kanye West was difficult to work with, Bloomberg reported.
- West started selling Yeezy sneakers with Nike in 2009, before later partnering with Adidas.
Adidas staff ignored warnings from Nike execs that Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was difficult to work with, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Before Adidas partnered with him on its Yeezy range, Ye had already worked with Nike to develop the Air Yeezy range, with the first sneakers hitting shelves in 2009. But their partnership came to an end just four years later when Ye said that Nike had refused to pay him royalties on Yeezy sales because he wasn't a professional athlete. Nike released its final collaboration sneaker with the rapper in February 2014, and the $245 shoes reportedly sold out in just 11 minutes.
Adidas and Ye announced their partnership in late 2013, and their first sneaker together came out in 2015. The deal helped boost sales and market share for the brand, which had previously been struggling to compete with Nike and Reebok.
But over the course of their partnership, Ye's behavior became increasingly erratic. Adidas staff were concerned about the rapper's actions for years, but the company's reliance on his sneaker range meant execs were reluctant to take action, per Bloomberg's report.
The tension came to a head in October 2022, when Ye wore a shirt with the words "White Lives Matter," which he said was "funny," and posted an antisemitic tirade on Twitter. After a string of other companies cut ties with Ye, Adidas finally followed suit on October 25, leaving the company with a mountain of unsold Yeezy stock worth around 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) and a huge black hole in its sales.
Adidas has said that it will begin selling some of the remaining Yeezy inventory in late May, with a "significant amount" donated to organizations working to combat discrimination and hate. If it were to write off the sneakers and apparel rather than selling them, this would lower its 2023 operating profits by around 500 million euros ($536 million), it said.
Nike and Adidas did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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