For Adidas, the pressure is building by the hour.
After Balenciaga, CAA, Vogue and more big names revealed they were cutting ties with Kanye West — as he continues to double down on anti-semitic rhetoric — the hashtag #boycottadidas is quickly gaining steam, and people have equated Adidas’ silence with complicity.
The backlash included Twitter users sharing photoshopped images of Hitler with Adidas shoes on, as well as both the personal and work email addresses of Adidas North America president Rupert Campbell.
The athletic giant has not issued a statement since Oct. 6, when Adidas said the partnership was under review. Since then, West has made repeated comments that are fueling antisemitic activity on a bigger scale. Over the weekend, demonstrators in Los Angeles used the comments of West to fuel their antisemitic propaganda. Perhaps the strongest image that circulated was of an extremist group doing the Nazi salute behind signs that read “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews” on Interstate 405. One of the banners promoted a video platform that streams content operated by the Goyim Defense League, a network of antisemitic conspiracy theorists.
Throughout the month, West has made several appearance on news and entertainment programs sharing his antisemitic views. For instance, West spoke with Tucker Carlson of Fox News on Oct. 6 and shared unfounded and false claims about Jewish people — including remarks that Fox News did not air. On Oct. 16, West appeared on “Drink Champs,” a program hosted by fellow rapper Nore and DJ EFN, which was posted and then removed. During the interview, West said, “I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what? Now what?”
That statement sparked major outcry from celebrities and other influential voices, including Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
“Over the last 72 hours, we have had several conversations with high-ranking Adidas executives and shareholders in the company as it pertains to their partnership with Kanye West. To this point their response has been insufficient and inexcusable,” Greenblatt wrote in a statement. “We have relayed our concerns about West’s vicious antisemitism, the harm it has done and continues to do to the Jewish community, but Adidas continues to do nothing. We are less interested in what they say and arc more focused on what they do. Big brands including Balenciaga, CAA, MRC or Vogue have stepped up and broken with Kanye — Adidas’ failure to do so is pathetic.”
The social media uproar over the situation has also escalated significantly in the past 24 hours.
“Hello? @adidas?? Are you there?? Anyone? Stan Smith? David Beckham?? Is this thing on ?? #SpeakOut #boycottadidas,” wrote comedian Judy Gold on the social media platform, calling out some of Adidas’ other big-name partners.
Kim Kardashian, West’s ex-wife, has also made a statement on the situation, though she did not address him by name.
“Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end,” Kardashian wrote on the social media platform today.
Since West’s now infamous rant and “White Lives Matter” shirt at the Yeezy SZN 9 fashion show in Paris at the start of the month, his relationships with the fashion community has deteriorated quickly.
But Adidas is in a unique situation as the rapper’s longtime, and most lucrative, fashion partner.
Its Yeezy relationship began in 2013, and three years later was extended to 2026. The first product to hit the market — the Adidas Yeezy Boost 750 and the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 — arrived in 2015.
While Adidas does not break out Yeezy sales numbers, Morningstar analyst David Swartz estimates the brand brings in close to $2 billion a year. Swartz projects overall Adidas revenues to hit $23 billion this year, which would mean Yeezy sales represent nearly 10% of the total.