Adidas to release Kanye West's Yeezy products without name, branding

Adidas is the sole owner of the Yeezy line design rights, and selling it without the name and branding will save the company $300 million in royalties and marketing without Kanye West.

 A pair of Yeezy shoes are seen in a Foot Locker store on the day Adidas terminated its partnership with the American rapper and designer Kanye West, now known as Ye, in Garden City, New York, US, October 25, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)
A pair of Yeezy shoes are seen in a Foot Locker store on the day Adidas terminated its partnership with the American rapper and designer Kanye West, now known as Ye, in Garden City, New York, US, October 25, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)

Adidas will still sell Kanye West's Yeezy designer sneaker line, but will not include the Yeezy name or branding, following the rapper and designer's antisemitic controversies, the company revealed on Wednesday in its quarterly earnings call.

"Going forward, we will leverage the existing inventory with the exact plans being developed as we speak."

Harm Ohlmeyer

"Going forward, we will leverage the existing inventory with the exact plans being developed as we speak," Adidas finance chief Harm Ohlmeyer said, according to CNN.

The reason this is possible is that Adidas is actually the sole owner of the Yeezy line design rights. And as Ohlmeyer explained, Adidas plans to make use of these rights by 2023, Business Insider reported.

However, the Yeezy Slide may be an exception, since Kanye West owns the patent.

According to Morgan Stanley, Yeezy products made up 8% of Adidas's total sales in 2021, accounting for nearly $2 billion.

 US rapper Kanye West (C), attends the Givenchy Spring-Summer 2023 fashion show during the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week, in Paris, on October 2, 2022.  (credit: JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images) US rapper Kanye West (C), attends the Givenchy Spring-Summer 2023 fashion show during the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week, in Paris, on October 2, 2022. (credit: JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

Ending their partnership with Kanye West actually cost Adidas a lot, too, with its revenue slashed by $500 million and its profits hurt by almost $250 million.

However, selling the Yeezy products without West's involvement will help Adidas save $300 million in royalty payments and marketing costs, according to Business Insider.

Background: Kanye West, Adidas and the antisemitism controversies that split them apart

Adidas ended its nine-year lucrative partnership with West, who also goes by Ye, after a series of antisemitism controversies began to crop up surrounding the rapper. 

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company wrote in a statement at the time. [West]’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.”

This was easily the biggest business deal West had, and its effects were immediately felt by his bank account. 

At one point, Kanye West was considered the most successful musician in the world, with a net worth of over $2 billion. But after his partnership with Adidas ended, he is now no longer a billionaire.

Other business partnerships that ended for West included the fashion brand Balenciaga and his talent agency Creative Arts Agency (CAA). In addition to the loss of his talent representation, a recently completed documentary about West will no longer be released as planned, according to MCR Studio.

"This morning, after discussion with our filmmakers and distribution partners, we made the decision not to proceed with any distribution for our recently completed documentary about Kanye West. We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform,” they wrote. “Kanye is a producer and sampler of music. Last week he sampled and remixed a classic tune that has charted for over 3,000 years — the lie that Jews are evil and conspire to control the world for their own gain.

Adidas initially resisted calls for a while to cut ties with Kanye West, but eventually did so under mounting pressure.