Jon Wexler is one of the sneaker industry’s most powerful and respected names — and his departure from Adidas was a surprise to many today.
Wexler is an expert on all things celebrity and influencer, and he’s watched the game change dramatically over the past few years.
“We regret to inform you that Jon Wexler, VP GM of Yeezy, has decided to leave Adidas to pursue interests outside the company, effective August 31,” an internal memo sent to Adidas employees read. “Jon, also known by many as ‘Wex,’ joined Adidas in 2000 and quickly developed through a number of positions in Brand Communications and EIM. Most recently he successfully led the Yeezy BU. Over the last two decades, Wex has made significant contributions to the Adidas brand through establishing partnerships with creators such as Kanye West, Pharrell and Beyonce, to name a few.”
But it was Wexler’s relationship with West that garnered the most attention through the years.
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The musician-turned-designer-turned-presidential hopeful said during the 2015 FN Achievement Awards that his successful partnership with Adidas goes way beyond making shoes.
While on stage to accept the Shoe of the Year award from Footwear News for his Adidas Yeezy Boost kicks, West paused in his passion-filled monologue to give a shout out to Adidas executive Jon Wexler, global director of entertainment and influencer marketing, who was also on stage, along with Adidas’ Arthur Hoeld and Rachel Muscat.
“I have to talk about how Jon basically saved my life,” said West. “So I’m in my baby momma’s momma’s pool house, and I’m talking to Jon and I’m just like, yo, as a creator, it doesn’t matter how big your house is, how big your name is, your job is to create while you’re here and if anyone is in the way of that, if anything gets in the way of that, you got to burn it to the fucking ground.”
He went on to recall, “So I said to Jon, it’s important. You have to save my life. I’m not creating and it’s affecting my music, it’s affecting our relationship, it’s affecting everything because I’m waking up in cold sweats every night. I want to fucking draw shoes, and it doesn’t matter if someone thinks that I’m supposed to be doing something that’s more important.”
He credited some of the success of the partnership to the fact that Wexler was highly knowledgeable about the world of hip hop. “This guy understood culture from Chicago, J Dilla, listened to all the albums,” West said. “If you guys want somebody to work with your company, find someone who knows about the person they’re talking to, a guy who’s got some real backstory.”
And while West heaped ample praise on the Adidas team for giving him the creative freedom to pursue his artistic vision for the collection, he did chide them for their budgetary restraints, causing Wexler to double over in laughter (and possibly shock?).
“They allowed me to be me and express myself,” said West. “But the contract said 25 SKUs, and for the fashion show I was supposed to do a collection with 25 SKUs — I don’t know how that was supposed to happen. And the original talent budget was $500,000 — I don’t know how I was supposed to put a design team together for that, but luckily I’m a multimillionaire rapper and I covered the rest of it.”
Click through the slideshow below to see more photos from the FN Achievement Awards.