By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business
Adidas is reviewing its partnership with Kanye West after the artist lambasted the company and wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt in public.
“After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review,” the apparel maker said in a statement. “We will continue to co-manage the current product during this period.”
West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, and Adidas have had an increasingly tense relationship in recent weeks, with the artist expressing his dissatisfaction with how some of his Adidas shoes turned out in a recent interview. And in a now-deleted Instagram post about the review, West wrote “F— ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS,” according to Billboard.
Adidas has partnered with West since 2013, when the company signed him away from rival Nike. In 2016, Adidas expanded its relationship with the rapper, calling it “the most significant partnership ever created between a non-athlete and an athletic brand.”
Earlier this week, West wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt and dressed several Black models in clothing with the same phrase at his YZY runway show at Paris fashion week.
The Anti-Defamation League categorizes the phrase as a “hate slogan” used by White supremacist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan.
West defended the slogan and shirt, telling Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday that he wore it because “it’s the obvious thing.”
“I thought the shirt was a funny shirt, the idea of me wearing it was funny, and I said why do you think it’s funny? And he said just a black man stating the obvious’,” West said, referencing his father, whom he called an “educated ex-Black Panther.”
When Carlson pushed West on why he thinks people consider that a controversial statement, he said it is because he’s not acting in a way the media thinks he should act. “Because the same people that have stripped us of our identity and labeled us as a color, have told us what it means to be Black,” West said.
Adidas is the second major partnership that West has publicly scorned. In September, he terminated his partnership with the Gap because of “substantial noncompliance.”
His lawyer said in a statement at the time that West was left with “no choice but to terminate their collaboration” because he alleges the retailer breached their partnership by not opening branded Yeezy stores or distributing his apparel as originally planned, among other issues.
West later appeared on CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” further describing his frustrations with the retailer.
“It was always a dream of mine to be at the Gap and bring the best product possible to the masses,” he told the network, adding that he envisioned top-quality items that could be sold for $20. But, he says, he wasn’t ultimately able to set the price he wanted for the resulting collection.
“Sometimes I would talk to the guys, the leaders, and it would be like I was on mute or something.”
— CNN’s Taylor Romine contributed to this report.
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