So, what’s the beef between Ye and partners Adidas and Gap?
Via a series of indicting Instagram posts, Kanye "Ye" West accused both Adidas and Gap of mismanagement and plagiarism of his designs.
Kanye West’s personal life and politics may have dominated a disproportionate number of headlines as of late, but the artist currently known as Ye is also a well-established brand, particularly in the world of fashion.
Now, in a dispute he parallels to his ongoing co-parenting feud with ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her family, Ye is fiercely defending his brand from two of his best-known collaborators in the industry, Adidas and Gap.
As reported by Business of Fashion, since Sept. 2, Ye has been lobbing a series of accusations at Adidas via his Instagram posts — including temporarily posting a photo of Adidas chief creative officer Alasdhair Willis as the page’s avatar.
“To the creative [director] of [Adidas] Alasdhair Willis I’ve done songs with your [father-in-law Paul McCartney],” read a since-deleted post on Tuesday morning. “How can you watch [Adidas] do what they’ve done to a fellow creative and not say anything and never even meet me or call me? Why did I have to do this in public?”
At issue are unapproved changes Ye alleges Adidas has made to footwear offered under his Yeezy label; specifically, in the form of different colorways and models.
”The fact [Adidas] felt they could color my shoes and name them without my approval is really wild,” Ye wrote in a separate post, alleging that Adidas tried to buy him out of the Yeezy brand for $1 billion while also projecting his royalties next year would be $500 million. According to BoF, Yeezy footwear brought in $1.7 billion in sales for Adidas in 2021 and $191 million in royalties for 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],” wrote Ye in a since-deleted post on Sunday. “You stole my f—ing designs amongst other things…I’m going to make things unbearable And I promise I’ve only been playing nice I know eeeeeeeverything I promise The fake shoes y’all sold behind my back in China Eeeeeverything,” he added.
Other posts have specifically taken aim at Daniel Cherry III, Adidas’ senior vice president and general manager, whom Ye repeatedly ridiculed and threatened with legal action. Also in Ye’s crosshairs were other members of the Germany-based company’s leadership, which includes departing CEO Kasper Rørsted (who garnered the creation of a mock death announcement from The New York Times) and beloved former track star and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who serves as a supervisory board member for the brand.
As Complex pointed out in its own explainer of the issue, Ye’s much-touted billionaire status is largely due to his alliance with the athletic wear juggernaut, with which he remains under contract until 2026. However, that did not stop him from expressing his desire to eventually acquire or launch his own shoe company for the sake of complete creative control.
As has become customary in recent years, Ye’s online grievances have been disappearing almost as quickly as they’ve appeared. But as previously noted, Adidas isn’t the only object of his ire. Gap, which enjoyed a tremendous share spike when it inked a deal to produce Ye’s Yeezy Gap line in 2020, as well as its highest e-commerce sales day in history upon the line’s first drop in 2021, has also since stoked his anger. According to BoF, Ye “has voiced dissatisfaction with how the line is being managed and accused Gap of copying designs from his Balenciaga collaboration to sell in its main line.”
Both Complex and BoF noted that neither Adidas nor Yeezy Gap has responded to requests for comment. BoF also noted Ye’s bipolar disorder diagnosis, which he publicly disclosed in 2018, and has often been deemed the cause of the artist’s mercurial temperament. However, as George Sullivan, CEO of U.K.-based sneaker retailer The Sole Supplier told online outlet Glossy, it was a calculated risk taken by both major brands.
“Kanye is a strong figure and has always had a reputation for saying what he thinks,” he said. “The worrying thing is that, the more Kanye says, the more he puts himself and the brands he works with at risk.”
As Ye shows no signs of restraint anytime soon, Glossy posits that perhaps the easiest solution might be to give the controversial creative what he wants — his own retail entities. But with both Gap and Adidas experiencing a steep decline in retail traffic, there is little to no chance of that happening, leaving both brands to either weather their relationships through the duration of Ye’s contracts or preemptively cut ties (also unlikely, since Yeezy remains a popular draw for both brands).
If and how these disputes will be resolved remains to be seen, but as Ye commented on Instagram early Wednesday morning alongside a photo of him embracing his four children: “Some things are bigger than money My kids have no idea what daddy has gone through this past few days alone to secure the brand that will one day be handed down to them God Willing These future leaders will never back down be stolen from and forced to compromise who they are for the check.”
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