Adidas is reviewing its partnership with Kanye West after the artist criticized the company and publicly wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt.
“After repeated attempts to privately resolve the situation, we have made the decision to put the partnership under review,” the apparel maker said in a statement. “We will continue to co-manage the current product during this time.”
West, who legally changed his name to Ye, and Adidas have had an increasingly strained relationship in recent weeks, with the artist expressing his displeasure with how some of his Adidas shoes were made. recent interview. And in a now-deleted Instagram post about the criticism, West wrote “F— ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS,” according to Billboard.
Adidas ( ADDDF ) has partnered with West since 2013, when the company signed him away from rival Nike ( NKE ). In 2016, Adidas ( ADDDF ) expanded its relationship with the rapper, calling it “the most significant partnership ever created between a non-athlete and a sports 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 the 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 wearing it was funny and I said why do you think it’s funny? And he just said a black man stating the obvious,” West said, referring to his father, whom he called an “educated ex-Black Panther.”
When Carlson pressed West on why he thinks people find that a controversial statement, he said he doesn’t act the way the media thinks he should act. “Because the same people who 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 West has publicly dissed. In September, it terminated its partnership with Gap due to “material non-compliance.”
His lawyer said in a statement at the time that West had “no choice but to end their partnership” because he claims the retailer breached their partnership by not opening Yeezy-branded stores or distributing his clothing as originally intended scheduled, among other issues.
West later appeared on CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” further describing his frustration with the retailer.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be at the Gap and bring the best possible product to the masses,” he told the network, adding that he envisioned top-quality items that could sell for $20. But, he says, he was ultimately unable to set the price he wanted for the resulting collection.
“Sometimes I would talk to the kids, the leaders, and it would be like I was on mute or something.”
– CNN’s Taylor Romine contributed to this report.