The Rise and Fall of Kanye West at Adidas: A Timeline of the Tumultuous Relationship

It’s been a rollercoaster relationship for Adidas and Kanye West. Today, the sportswear giant has cut ties with the founder of the Yeezy brand.

After West made repeated antisemitic comments in recent weeks, on top of wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt at Paris Fashion Week, the German sportswear brand said in a statement to FN that it would no longer work with Ye.

”Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” today’s statement said.

The move comes after years of success for the two — albeit many bumps in the road.

After first designing for Nike, West signed a deal with Adidas in 2013. In June 2016, Adidas and West announced they had extended their partnership, calling it a “Yeezy-branded entity creating footwear, apparel and accessories for all genders across street and sport.” West said at the time: “These past two years Adidas and Yeezy have given a glimpse into our future. This partnership illustrates that anyone with a dream can dream without limitations.”

Below, see a timeline of West and Adidas’ storied, yet tumultuous, partnership.

Feb. 8, 2015

The artist debuts his first Adidas shoe at the 2015 Grammys, wearing his Yeezy 750 Boost. The rapper returns to the Grammy stage after a six-year absence, performing his new single “Only One” and putting his new Yeezy kicks firmly on display.

Feb. 12, 2015

West debuts Yeezy Season 1 during NYFW. And one piece from the collection instantly stole the show: the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350.

Dec. 2, 2015

West gives his infamous 20-minute-long speech when accepting Shoe of the Year at the FN Achievement Awards. He took home the trophy for his Adidas Yeezy Boost sneaker and spoke on a range of topics, from Taylor Swift to creativity.

Dec. 31, 2015

West takes aim at former home Nike. “Nike, Nike treat employees just like slaves/Gave LeBron a billi’ not to run away,” he raps in his new single “Facts.” The song’s hook: “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman,” alluded to his sneakers surpassing the Air Jordan line in popularity.

June 29, 2016

Adidas and West announce they had extended their partnership, calling it a “Yeezy-branded entity creating footwear, apparel and accessories for all genders across street and sport.” Adidas calls the alliance “the most significant partnership ever created between a non-athlete and an athletic brand.”

Aug. 6, 2016

President of Adidas Group North America at the time, Mark King, explained how West has positively impacted the company. “He’s brought the idea that the Adidas brand is willing to create new and different things. The association with Kanye West and how he sees himself as an artist — with design, music and culture — said ‘this Adidas brand is not just a typical sports brand. It’s one that looks at creativity and considers both sports and culture.’ And his influence runs deeper than that — to products he really has no connection with, such as the NMD. He has opened our eyes [to the fact that] it’s a big world out there and we should be looking at it in many different ways.”

Dec. 27, 2017

West gives Kim Kardashian $200,000 in Adidas stock for Christmas. Kardashian reveals on Instagram that a total of 995 shares were purchased. At roughly $200 per share currently, that brings the total investment in the company to around $200,000.

Oct. 11, 2018

During his highly anticipated visit to the White House with President Donald Trump, first daughter Ivanka Trump and senior advisor Jared Kushner, West brings up his ties to Adidas, telling Trump, “You gave me the heart to go to Adidas. This Adidas thing made me a billionaire.”

Nov. 6, 2018

Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted talks about how West’s controversial politics have affected the brand. “Kanye brings different points of view out. We want creators to have freedom and sometimes have a different point of view, something people could react to in a positive or a negative sense. That is what Kanye brings to the table. If he brought a common position for everybody, I think people would not react the way they do. And in many ways, we’re very supportive of what he does, but it doesn’t mean we’re supportive of every statement. We’re not signing up to his statements; we’re signing up to what he brings to the brand and the products he’s bringing out.”

Feb. 28, 2019

In a sit-down interview with Hood by Air founder Shayne Oliver, published by Interview Magazine, the rapper reveals that he’s been “fighting” for the role of Adidas creative director. “I’ve been fighting and struggling and arguing and talking and having conversation after conversation about being the creative director of Adidas. … It’s just f–king obvious, right?”

March 6, 2019

West hosts a special performance of his “Sunday Service” show at Adidas’ North America headquarters. The Yeezy designer arrives at the sportswear giant’s Portland, Ore., outpost to deliver his latest jam session — complete with a live band and gospel choir in a set that featured a number of Ye’s greatest hits.

March 22, 2019

West teams up with his Yeezy partner Adidas to support the National Alliance on Mental Illness. West, along with his wife, Kim Kardashian, and their children take part in one of several lemonade stands across the country where Yeezy Boost 700 V2 “Geode” sneakers were sold in advance of its release. All proceeds from the sale of the shoes, which retail for $300, go toward the charity.

July 9, 2019

In an interview with Forbes, West says the Yeezy “is the Lamborghini of shoes.” “There’s so many prototypes that you go into for whatever you get,” West said, explaining that hundreds of prototypes are sometimes created before landing on the final product. “They’re miniature vehicles; we work on shoes like you’d work on a car.“ Looking down at thousands of his sneakers, the entertainer noted that “there’s no bad shoes.” “Any of these shoes that didn’t make it … 20 years from now, you’ll look and that shoe will be worth [a lot] to the numbers guy,” he said. “What’s a Picasso sketch worth now? What’s a Warhol sketch worth?”

Sept. 19, 2019

West’s sneaker empire makes him the highest-earning hip-hop star. For the first time in West’s career, he was ranked No. 1 on Forbes‘ list of the highest-paid hip-hop stars for the year, leapfrogging over mentor Jay-Z. The rapper-designer earned $150 million before taxes in the past year, largely due to the success of his Adidas Yeezy sneaker line. Adidas Yeezy is on pace to do $1.5 billion in sales the year, putting it in competition with Jordan Brand, which brings in around $3 billion annually. West also profits from sales of his Yeezy apparel line, which he owns outright at 100%.

Nov. 8, 2019

Adidas reports a Q3 revenue increase of 9% to 6.41 billion euros ($7.1 billion), but footwear sales rose just 1% during the quarter — compared with growth of 8% in last year’s same period. CEO Kasper Rorsted tells investors the West-led line did not experience growth during the quarter — neither was it expected to do so — due to difficult year-over-year comparisons. Adidas Group revenues for the third quarter beat forecasts, but footwear sales decelerated, and some analysts speculated that slowing Yeezy momentum could be partly responsible.

July 5, 2020

West says he will run for president of the United States. He chose Independence Day to make the announcement, via Twitter. “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future,” he writes. “I am running for president of the United States.”

Sept. 2, 2020

West expresses his admiration for the former Adidas executive Jon Wexler on Twitter. “Godspeed to my brother Jon Wexler,” West writes on the social media platform. “This man changed the game with our Adidas deal and helped to bring adidas to a 62 billion dollar market cap and made me a multi billionaire.” He continued, “Thank you Jon. You changed my life.” On Aug. 31, 2020, FN obtained an email sent to Adidas employees stating Wexler was leaving the company, which he then confirmed on Instagram.

Sept. 24, 2020

West demands to be on the Adidas and Gap boards. The rapper-turned-designer tweets that he would hope to collaborate with Nike once appointed. “My first pillar when I’m on the board of adidas will be an adidas Nike collaboration to support community growth,” West wrote on Twitter. “In my Adidas contract, I definitely should be able to wear Jordans. Jordans need to be part of reparations. You can’t tell a Black man not to wear Jordans,” West said.

Oct. 6, 2020

West reports his financial assets and liabilities — including a somewhat surprising stake in Nike Inc. — as part of his run for president as an independent candidate. In filings with the Federal Elections Commission (first obtained by Business Insider), the rapper-slash-designer disclosed that Yeezy LLC was his largest asset and is worth “over $50 million.” The documents, which were forwarded to the United States Office of Government Ethics for review and certification, showed that Yeezy Apparel LLC and Yeezy Footwear LLC were also each valued at $50 million or more. He also reported that he has a stake in Adidas that’s worth between $25 million and $50 million, as well as another in Nike that’s in the range of $5 million through $25 million.

April 28, 2021

Yeezy starts 2021 off strong. In Q1, Kanye West’s label with Adidas launches the “hottest men’s product in the world,” according to fashion shopping platform Lyst, with the Adidas Yeezy 450 sneakers.

June 13, 2022

The multihyphenate takes to Instagram to air out grievences with the Three Stripes, sharing a lengthy statement alleging the brand copied his work. In the rant, West shares a photo of the Adidas Adilette 22 and calls it “a fake Yeezy,” and demands Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted talk to him.

Sept. 1, 2022

West posts a fake front-page newspaper headline on his Instagram account that reads “Kasper Rørsted Also Dead at 60,” with the caption “God Loves Us.” The headline was meant as a jab to the Adidas CEO, who announced last week that he would be stepping down from his role at the athletic company next year.

Sept. 9, 2022

In a series of now-deleted Instagram posts, the rapper-turned-fashion mogul calls out Adidas for allegedly copying his designs, as well as not giving him enough control over his products and not opening up Yeezy stores, among other grievances. West also suggests he wanted to terminate his deal with the company and have Adidas pay him $2 billion in damages.

Oct 6, 2022

Adidas announces it has put its Yeezy partnership under review amid a week of drama surrounding West. An Adidas spokesperson says in a statement to FN that the decision was made “after repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation,” adding that Adidas “will continue to co-manage the current product during this period.” Meanwhile, West is vocal about his own intentions to terminate the contract. The statement from Adidas comes days after West’s controversial Yeezy SZN 9 fashion show, in which he is spotted wearing a black long-sleeved T-shirt with the words “White Lives Matter” emblazoned on the back. He later doubles down on his stance on Instagram despite widespread backlash.

Oct. 24, 2022

After Balenciaga, CAA, Vogue and more big names reveal they are cutting ties with West — as he continues to double down on anti-semitic rhetoric — the hashtag #boycottadidas gains steam, and people soon equate Adidas’ silence with complicity. The petition to boycott Adidas comes after demonstrators in Los Angeles cite West’s comments as part of their antisemitic propaganda. One image shows an extremist group doing the Nazi salute behind signs that read “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews” on Interstate 405.

Oct. 25, 2022

Adidas ends partnership with West.

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