Since its inception, Yeezy’s growth has hit stratospheric heights as one of the most innovative and dominant brands of the modern sneakersphere. According to Business of Fashion, in 2021, Yeezy adidas sneakers raked in nearly $1.7 billion in sales. In 2022, Yeezy’s value was estimated at $3.2–$4.7 billion, and was projected to draw $1 billion in annual sales with GAP within the next 2–8 years. With Ye's major business partnerships with GAP and adidas now terminated, a whole new phase in the realms of sneakers and streetwear is dawning.
There’s a lot at stake! Keep it locked here for rolling updates.
Bjorn Gulden Comments on adi’s Cancelled Yeezy Partnership
Update September 20, 2023: adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden has sat down for an interview on the podcast In Good Company, with Norway Wealth Fund CEO Nicolai Tangen. The conversation spans a range of topics, including adidas’ cancelled relationship with Ye. This is the first time comments have publicly been made, excluding official adidas press statements.,
Gulden commented, ‘I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world, both in music and what I will call street culture. So he's extremely creative and has together with adidas created a Yeezy line which was very successful. And then as creative people, you know, he did some statements which wasn't that good. And that caused adi to break the contract and withdraw the product. Very unfortunate because I don't think he meant what he said and I don't think he's a bad person. It just came across that way. And that meant we lost that business. You know, one of the most successful colabs in history. Very sad. But again, you know, when you work with third parties, that could happen and you know, it's part of the game. It can happen with an athlete, it can happen with an entertainer. So, it's part of the business.’
Update November 22, 2022: Claims that Ye is running for president in 2024 are blowing up the internet. The news can be traced back to the latest video posted on the YouTube channel X17onlineVideo, who spent some time with Ye over the weekend. Opening up the video, Ye mentions that he’s in the process of planning his 2024 presidential campaign in the most casual way possible, pointing out that Milo Yiannopoulos is ‘working on the campaign’. When asked if it was an announcement, Ye says, ‘I guess it is!’
Later in the video, Ye presents some garments that appear to be Ye24 campaign merch. When asked if he’s running, he simply replies, ‘Yes’. Check out the full video below.
Ye Pulls Up to ComplexCon
Update November 21, 2022: There's always a lot going on at ComplexCon and this year Ye has decided to make a surprise appearance in California, sending the annual festivities off with a bang. What isn’t a surprise is the pandemonium that ensued, with Ye being followed by a swarm of people inside the venue. On-foot, it appears that Ye is wearing the Zellerfeld 3D printed boots which recently circulated around YZY SZN 9. Check them out in the videos below.
adidas Reportedly Raising Debt in Europe
Update November 15, 2022: It’s become public knowledge that adidas’ split from Ye would cost them heavily on the financial front. Things have been relatively quiet since the news broke last week, but adidas’ latest move has now appeared via Bloomberg. According to the news source, adi are raising debt from Europe’s bond market, reportedly seeking €1 billion ($1 billion) from a two-part debt deal. This is the first time the Three Stripes have dipped their toes into the debt market since 2020.
Right now, it appears that that adi’s steps to standing on their own two feet involve escaping debt via bonds, aka loans, as well as selling non-Yeezy branded designs.
adi Plans to Use Yeezy Designs
Update November 10, 2022: Following the public splitting between adidas and Ye, it has remained unclear what would become of Yeezy designs, as well as clarity on ownership and rights. Now according to BoF, on adidas’ third quarter earnings call, it has been confirmed that adi will continue to use Yeezy designs moving forward. Furthermore, according to Bloomberg, adi’s CFO Harm Ohlmeyer stated that they are still planning out their options for selling the sneakers in 2023 and also expect to save around $302 million in royalties and marketing.
Ohlmeyer also stated, ‘Let me be clear, we own all the IP, we own all the designs, we own all the versions and new colourways. It’s our product. We do not own the Yeezy name.’
Aside from adidas announcing the above plans, there are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered.
Yeezy Manufacturer Lays off Two-Thirds of Its Staff
November 4, 2022: United States footwear manufacturer Okabashi Brands, known for making the Yeezy Foam Runners, has laid off 142 workers. The number amounts to two-thirds of their workforce.
‘adidas clearly does not tolerate hate speech, and Okabashi also stands for these values,’ a spokesperson from Okabashi said to AJC.
‘Unfortunately, this means Okabashi has to stop its current production for adidas. As of right now, there are not enough orders to keep all employees busy with work.’
The Future of Yeezy adidas Sneakers
October 27, 2022: A number of analysts and legal experts have chimed in on the subject of Yeezy-patented sneaker designs and what may happen regarding ownership moving forward. According to analysts who have spoken to FORTUNE, adidas could be expected to continue to sell formerly branded Yeezy sneaker designs without Yeezy branding in order to limit the loss of revenues and save on royalty expenses in 2023.
Per legal experts who have spoken to CNN, they note that the Yeezy adidas contract is not publicly viewable, but it’s believed that Ye is the owner of the Yeezy trademark. This observation has been made off the back of adidas’ statement saying they would ‘end production of Yeezy branded products’.
See below for a gallery of Yeezy design patents that are owned by adidas.
Ye Pulls Up to Skechers HQ
October 27, 2022: In the wake of brands cutting ties with Ye, the rapper has reportedly turned up to Skechers’ HQ in Manhattan Beach, California. According to reports from TMZ, Ye did not have a scheduled meeting, spoke a few words with executives, and then was escorted off the premises. Skechers told TMZ that Ye ‘arrived unannounced and without invitation at one of Skechers’ corporate offices in Los Angeles. Considering Ye was engaged in unauthorized filming, two Skechers executives escorted him and his party from the building after a brief conversation.’
It’s unclear what Ye’s intentions were, but a spokesperson for the brand has confirmed that a partnership is not happening.
They said, ‘Skechers is not considering and has no intention of working with West. We condemn his recent divisive remarks and do not tolerate antisemitism or any other form of hate speech. Again, West showed up unannounced and uninvited to Skechers corporate offices.’
Skechers was founded and is owned and operated by a Jewish family.
Foot Locker and GAP Pull Yeezy Product
October 26, 2022: Following the announcement that adidas have terminated their partnership with Ye, Foot Locker have also issued a statement on the Yeezy front. As reported by Footwear News, a company email has been sent to FL employees regarding their stance, including instructions to pause sales on Yeezy products.
The statement reads, ‘Foot Locker, Inc. does not tolerate any form of antisemitism or hateful and discriminatory behavior. While we remain a partner with adidas and carry a wide assortment of their collections — we will not be supporting any future Yeezy product drops, and we have instructed our retail operators to pull any existing product from our shelves and digital sites.’
Foot Locker’s partnership with adidas was expected to generate more than $2 billion in sales by 2025, which Yeezy products would have undoubtedly bolstered.
GAP are also removing Yeezy GAP products from stores and have shut down the Yeezy GAP webstore.
In a statement made to HYPEBEAST, they said, ‘In September, GAP announced ending its Yeezy GAP partnership. Our former partner’s recent remarks and behavior further underscore why. We are taking immediate steps to remove Yeezy GAP product from our stores, and we have shut down yeezygap.com.
Antisemitism, 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 organizations that combat hate and discrimination.’
Lex Fridman Interviews Ye on New Podcast Episode
October 25, 2022: As Ye continues to be under fire for anti-Semitic remarks and comments about George Floyd, NBC have reported that an anti-Semitic group hung a ‘Kanye is right about the Jews’ banner over a Los Angeles freeway. Since then, there have been several online responses about the matter, including one from Jessica Seinfeld who took to Instagram to post an image that read, ‘I support my Jewish friends and the Jewish people,’ along with a Change.org petition asking for adidas to end its partnership with Ye.
Since then, Ye has sat down for a lengthy interview with Lex Fridman, where they discussed his recent comments, his status with Balenciaga (confirming that he and Demna are still ‘kindred spirits’), that he still pays royalties to the brand and more. Check it out above.
Balenciaga Officially Distances From Kanye
October 21, 2022: ,WWD confirmed that Kering-owned fashion house Balenciaga is distancing from Ye. The statement revealed that ‘Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist.’ Kanye West walked in Balenciaga’s ‘The Mud Show’, but the brand subsequently pulled images of Kanye from their site. This decision to split comes after Ye made non-factual anti-Semitic remarks and comments about George Floyd, causing social media backlash against the musician and designer.
George Floyd’s Family May Be Planning to Sue Ye
October 19, 2022: The family of George Floyd are reportedly planning to sue Ye for a sum of $250 million for recent remarks made on Drink Champs. As reported by Complex, Pat D. Dixon III, the lawyer handling the case, has stated: ‘Kanye’s comments are a repugnant attempt to discount George Floyd’s life and profit from his inhumane death.’ They also added that they want to ‘hold Mr West accountable’ for his ‘flagrant remarks’. If the suit goes ahead, not only will it be directed at Ye, but also at ‘business partners’ and ‘associates’.
The Drink Champs episode has since been deleted from YouTube, and a representative has issued a statement apologising for its contents.
‘Drink Champs prides itself on its ability to allow a free flow of ideas within the hip hop community. That being said, unfortunately, the recent interview with Kanye West contained false and hurtful information regarding the circumstances surrounding the murder of George Floyd. Integrity is very important, and we don’t want to promote false narratives on our platform. Our goal is to celebrate the culture. Therefore, we had no choice but to remove the episode from distribution. We apologize to the family of Mr Floyd and anyone else hurt by this episode.’
Ye Set to Buy Social Networking Service Parler
October 18, 2022: Following his ban on Instagram and Twitter, Ye is now set to buy the right-wing social networking service Parler. Ye stated in a press release, ‘In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves.’ Parler’s CEO, George Farmer, is married to political journalist Candace Owens, and the sale is due to be finalised by the end of 2022’s fourth quarter.
Drink Champs Hosts Ye
October 17, 2022: Ye has sat down for his latest interview on the podcast Drink Champs. Speaking to show hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, Ye covered topics like being banned from the media, running for office in 2024 and more. As it stands, the discussion has ruffled a few feathers online, particularly in relation to his comments about the death of George Floyd. You can view the interview above.
Ye Issues a Statement on JPMorgan Chase
October 14, 2022: Ye still appears to be blocked from his Instagram and Twitter accounts. However, he gave a comment to a photojournalist while outside of Candace Owen’s premiere for The Greatest Lie Ever Sold documentary. He also responded briefly to accusations of being anti-semitic due to other recent comments. Check it out above.
JPMorgan End Banking Relationship With Yeezy
October 13, 2022: Candace Owens, a political journalist and close confidant of Ye, has taken to Twitter to share breaking news regarding Yeezy’s banking status. Owens has obtained an email that states JPMorgan Chase is ending its banking relationship with the streetwear brand.
Sharing a copy of the email sent to Ye, Owens tweeted: ‘Earlier today I learned that @kanyewest was officially kicked out of JP Morgan Chase bank. I was told there was no official reason given, but they sent this letter as well to confirm that he has until late November to find another place for the Yeezy empire to bank.’
The news comes off the back of Ye publicly expressing his dissatisfaction with the American banking company. Ye has until November 21 to organise banking elsewhere.
Ye Shares LAST WEEK Documentary
October 11, 2022: While Ye has currently been locked out of his Instagram and Twitter accounts due to what many have deemed to be anti-semitic dialogue, he has since taken to YouTube to share a 30-minute documentary titled LAST WEEK. The documentary begins with GTA-inspired videography before sharing never-before-seen footage of recent moments like car rides, phone calls and Yeezy Season 9 fittings.
Around the halfway mark, the documentary cuts to some covertly filmed footage of a meeting between Ye and adidas executives. The faces in the room are blurred, but it seems both Ye and his representation are present alongside two adidas executives – including adi’s chief creative officer and Stella McCartney’s husband, Alasdhair Willis.
It is unclear if adidas will respond to the footage going public.
The Louis Vuitton Don
October 10, 2022: Ye has sat down for an interview with Clique TV to talk about everything from why he uses social media to express himself to collapsed deals with Louis Vuitton.
Talking about LV, Ye details previous conversations with LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, who reportedly offered to produce Yeezy apparel after the Season 1 fashion show. Later in the interview, Ye also mentions he was offered the creative director of LV men’s role before the late Virgil Abloh and elaborates on why he believes he never collaborated with the French luxury brand during Abloh’s tenure.
‘Virgil had the access to the house, and we were never able to do a collaboration,’ Ye begins. ‘I think because they consider me to be toxic because I had a political opinion; because I wouldn’t wear BLM shirts; because I would wear a red hat. The fact that I wanted to vote on Trump is the thing that sent me to the hospital the most.’
Ye also says that he felt a lot of ‘pain’ and ‘jealousy’ when Abloh was at LV and that ‘he would get mad’ because he ‘felt certain designs could be better.’
adidas Issue a Statement
October 7, 2022: For months, adidas have remained publicly silent on the status of their partnership with Ye. Now, they’ve issued a statement to Hypebeast stating that the partnership is ‘under review’. See the full statement below.
‘adidas has always been about creativity, innovation and supporting athletes and artists to achieve their vision. The adidas Yeezy partnership is one of the most successful collaborations in our industry’s history. We are proud of our team that has worked tirelessly throughout our collaboration with Ye and the iconic products that were born from it. We also recognize that all successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values. After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review. We will continue to co-manage the current product during this period.’
Ye has since acknowledged the statement via his Instagram.
The Controversy Continues
October 6, 2022: Following the outpouring from those who oppose Ye’s ‘White Lives Matter’ t-shirts, a number of prominent people have spoken out in its defence.
Political scientist and professor Tatishe M. Nteta has spoken in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, sharing insight into a poll conducted earlier this year with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The poll found that support for the Black Lives Matter movement had decreased from 48 per cent to 31 per cent in May and saw a steady decline among Black people in recent years across the US.
Professor Nteta told the Daily Mail, ‘Kanye West, in some ways, is voicing a sentiment that some aspects and portions of the American public believe and support.’ He added, ‘But at the same time, Kanye West, over the course of the last few years, has expressed very conservative views. In some ways, it’s not surprising.’
During an interview with ,Breakfast Club AM, Diddy also shared his opinion on the matter. He opened by saying, ‘My boy [Ye] is a super, super, super free thinker. And a lot of times, what he means is, like, misconstrued, you know what I’m saying?’ He also said, ‘We don’t have to condemn Kanye or cancel him,’ and, ‘you gotta understand your actions.’
Ye Sparks Major Controversy With ‘White Lives Matter’ T-Shirt
October 5, 2022: Following Ye’s Yeezy Season 9 show at Paris Fashion Week, global media and fashion onlookers have expressed disappointment and anger over the collection’s ‘White Lives Matter’ t-shirts. It wasn’t only Ye who donned the controversial garment, but also the runway models and political journalist Candace Owens. According to reports, upon sighting the t-shirts, attendees, including Jaden Smith and DAZED US editor Lynette Nylander exited the show. And within 24 hours of the show’s completion, publications began running articles stating that Ye is endorsing white supremacy messaging and gaslighting Black people.
Fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson was among the first to offer a critique, saying ‘the t-shirts this man conceived, produced and shares with the world are pure violence.’ Ye responded to this by publicly speaking out against Karefa-Johnson with a number of IG posts. Since then, Supreme creative director Tremaine Emory has defended Karefa-Johnson, and the rapper has been called out for misogyny, assault, and, by Gigi Hadid, even being a ‘bully’. The general consensus is that Ye has ‘gone too far’. Now, the latest developments have come from Ye himself, who has taken to Instagram to state that he caught up with Karefa-Johnson for an open conversation, in which they both reportedly apologised to each other.
Opposing the popular opinion is a running dialogue led by Owens, who views those who believe the ‘White Lives Matter’ t-shirts are problematic are missing the mark. According to Owens, the t-shirt speaks to an idea that the Black Lives Matter movement is a ‘lie’, stating, ‘If Black lives matter then some of these things that we have been talking about on this show, things that I have been talking about throughout my entire political career would be getting attention, not the t-shirt.’ Owens is currently working on a documentary that, in her own words, ‘exposes’ the ‘fraudulent nature’ of the movement and the organisation that allegedly made billions of dollars from it.
Paris Fashion Week
October 3–4, 2022: Ye is a global fashion week mainstay, from sitting front row at high-profile shows to hosting his own and now walking in them. After he made his catwalk debut for Balenciaga’s spring/summer show this week, many anticipated the unveiling of YZY Season 9. And unveil he did, debuting a pair of 3D-printed boots created by the experts from Zellerfeld.
Before the YZY Season 9 show, Vogue had the chance to sit down with Ye to reflect on what had not worked out with his former corporate partners. ‘Our point, our idea, is that there is no one who is not welcome at YZY, at Donda. And that’s why I went to Gap,’ Ye said. ‘And why I brought Demna with me. To say, “OK, Demna’s cut is at the top of what Paris has to offer. And Paris is at the top of what fashion has to offer. So let’s bring Paris to the people.”’
Ye also mentioned that YZY has just purchased its fourth factory in California.
Kanye Makes a Proposal to adi
September 23, 2022: Ye has taken to Instagram to share screenshots of negotiations he’s interested in making with adidas. Via his Instagram Stories, West said, ‘adidas, I’m willing to give you 20% of sales. Not ownership. As a non exclusive manufacturing and distribution partner.’ There are yet to be further updates to Kanye’s proposal, including a response from adidas. At this stage, it’s also unclear what legal movements are underway.
Kanye Shares a Summary of Restrictions Document
September 19, 2022: After it was announced that Ye would be parting ways with GAP, the rapper has now taken to Instagram to share the latest legal development. It appears that West has been issued a summary of restrictions document, encompassing restrictions on Yeezy standalone activities in footwear, apparel and accessories. The restrictions relate to specific contracts, including a licensing and endorsement agreement with adidas and a strategic agreement with GAP.
As per the document, Kanye and Yeezy will not be able to ‘use, wear, sponsor, promote, market, advertise, endorse, design, manufacture, license, sell or provide consulting services with respect to any of the following products under the Yeezy Trademarks or Ye's likeness...’ Below that is an extensive list of the three areas, with specific mention that ‘footwear which uses designs that copy or resemble any designs used for Yeezy by adidas products’, as well as ‘apparel which uses designs that copy or resemble any designs used for Yeezy by adidas or Yeezy Gap products’ are all deemed to be restricted.
Kanye Opens up on Working With GAP
He opens up by saying, ‘It was always a dream of mine to be at the GAP and to bring the best product possible to the masses. I always talked to them about doing products for $20, designed at the same level of the top fashion houses in. the world, at $20 for the people.’
With that not coming to fruition due to ‘struggles and back and forth’, he reveals issues he had with price point decision-making, an interesting slice of information to know, given the widespread backlash he received for the excessive price points of the collaboration.
‘We designed an entire collection, and actually, I wasn’t able to set the actual price that I wanted for this collection. And then they actually took one of the shirts and sold it for $19. They priced my stuff at $200 and above their whole price point normally and then did the exact same shirt for $20,’ Ye said.
‘And also they did pop-ups, and I signed on with them because, in the contract, they said they were gonna do stores. And they just ignored us about building stores constantly... sometimes I would talk to the guys, the leaders, and it would be like I was on mute or something. Our agenda wasn’t aligned.’
Yeezy GAP is Over
September 16, 2022: One of the most monumental streetwear partnerships of the 2020s era has prematurely come to an end.
As reported by The New York Times, Ye’s lawyers had actually sent a breach-of-contract notice to GAP on August 16, to which GAP reportedly responded with a letter on August 23. Evidently, no progress was made on this front, with Ye’s lawyer Nicholas Gravante Jr. saying, ‘Gap left him no choice but to terminate their agreement.’
As such, Ye’s legal team has sent GAP a notice of termination, spelling out that the company has failed to meet a number of its contractual obligations, including failing to release certain items and failing to open stores, which they had agreed to do in 2021.
GAP have yet to issue a formal response. However, as per The Times, the brand has communicated the end of the agreement to its employees, with an announcement written by GAP brand president Mark Breitbard. ‘While we share a vision of bringing high-quality, trend-forward, utilitarian design to all people through unique omni experiences with Yeezy Gap, how we work together to deliver this vision is not aligned. And we are deciding to wind down the partnership.’
The Yeezy GAP partnership deal was inked in 2020 and was intended for a ten-year run.
Kanye is Going to Fly Solo
September 13, 2022: In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg, Kanye has declared his plans to cut ties with corporate partners adidas and GAP. ‘It’s time for me to go it alone,’ Ye said. ‘It’s fine. I made the companies money. The companies made me money. We created ideas that will change apparel forever. Like the round jacket, the foam runner, the slides that have changed the shoe industry. Now it’s time for Ye to make the new industry. No more companies standing in between me and the audience.’
How the new arrangements will work is yet to be seen, as Bloomberg reports that West is currently under a long-term arrangement with adidas who will be producing the Yeezy Boost 350 until 2026. His apparel agreement with GAP is also due to last until 2030. 'They my new baby mamas,' Ye added. 'I guess we’re just going to have to co-parent those 350s.'
West will still be running Yeezy Supply, the webstore dedicated to Yeezy product drops.
adidas and GAP reps have declined to issue a comment.
Artists Side With Kanye
September 6, 2022: Kanye’s fellow artists are standing in solidarity with the rapper, taking to Instagram to show their support while boycotting adidas. Posting up images of a crossed-out adiFOM Q, Swizz Beatz wrote an accompanying caption that asks adidas to ‘do the correct thing.’
Diddy has also taken a stance with West, saying, ‘Since the era of Run-DMC, @Adidas has always used Hip Hop to build its brand and make billions off of our culture.’ He continued, ‘I’m done wearing Adidas products until they make this right.’
A movement is afoot!
Kanye Says He Was Offered $1 Billion Buyout From Yeezy
September 5, 2022: Continuing to speak out about adidas, in now-deleted Instagram posts, West claimed that he was offered $1 billion as a buyout from Yeezy. ‘I have no chill. It’s going to cost you billions to keep me. It’s going to cost you billions to let me go, Adidas,’ he wrote. Of course, Ye isn’t interested in a $1 billion buyout, as he made clear: ‘My royalties next year are 500 million dollars alone.’
Kanye Turns to adidas GM/SVP Daniel Cherry III
September 3, 2022: adidas general manager Daniel Cherry III recently became the centre of Kanye’s attention. While Kanye has not explicitly stated his beef with Cherry, surrounding discourse suggests that he believes the adi senior is behind much of the Yeezy decision-making that Kanye himself has not approved. Cherry reportedly joined the Three Stripes in January this year.
Kanye Opens the Yeezy GAP Floodgates
September 1, 2022: Ever since Kanye took to Instagram to call out GAP for copying his Yeezy GAP Engineered by Balenciaga t-shirts, he’s opened the floodgates to other qualms with GAP. In addition to drawing parallels between the in-line tees and the Yeezy ones, Ye has also claimed to be left out of GAP comms, writing on Instagram: ‘Gap having meetings about me without me.’
adidas CEO Kasper Rørsted’s Surprise Exit
August 23, 2022: In August, adidas announced that chief executive officer, Kasper Rørsted, would be making a surprise departure from the company, effective in 2023. Rørsted had been at the helm since 2016 and was supposed to carry out the role until July 31, 2026.
Yeezy Day 2022
August 3, 2022: Kanye West first introduced Yeezy Day in 2019 as a day intended to celebrate and flex the many models in existence. But this year, the festivities were more bitter than sweet, as West claimed that he didn’t actually approve Yeezy Day 2022. What’s more, he says he didn’t give the green light for the retro of silhouettes like the ‘Turtle Dove’ either, and that adi hired their new adi GM (who oversees Yeezy) without his knowledge.
Kanye Says the Adilette 22 Slide is a ‘Fake Yeezy’
June 14, 2022: adidas revealed the Adilette 22 slide. With many citing the slide as a very Yeezy-esque design, it wasn’t long until Kanye caught wind of the Adilette, taking to Instagram to call out adidas and, specifically, their CEO, Kasper Rørsted. West said, ‘I’m not standing for this blatant copying no more,’ also declaring that the Adilette 22 is a Yeezy slide ripoff, ‘this shoe is a fake Yeezy made by adidas themselves.’