Kanye West's partnership with Adidas helped him become a billionaire

Berlin (AFP) - German sportswear giant Adidas said Tuesday it was ending its partnership with Kanye West after a series of anti-Semitic outbursts by the controversial rapper.

Recent comments by West – now known formally as Ye – were “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”, Adidas said in a statement.

“After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately”.

Adidas said it would “end production” of the highly successful “Yeezy” line designed together with West and “stop all payments to Ye and his companies”.

The abrupt end to the collaboration between the sports outfitter and rapper would slash Adidas’s net income in 2022 by “up to 250 million euros ($246 million)”, the company estimated.

Adidas’s decision to dump the artist was “overdue”, said Josef Schuster of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“For weeks, West has caused worldwide furore with his anti-Semitic remarks,” Schuster said, adding that the rapper’s comments had become “intolerable”.

- T-shirt statement -

Adidas began a review of its relationship with West earlier this month after he appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt emblazoned with “White Lives Matter”, a slogan created as a backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Days later he was locked out of Twitter and Instagram for threatening to “Go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”, using a reference to US military readiness.

Comments made by West “violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness”, Adidas said Tuesday.

The artist was associated with rival sportswear company Nike for years but broke away in 2013, lending his name to Adidas as they launched their first Yeezy shoe together in 2015 – a partnership that went on to make him a billionaire.

Along with Beyonce, Stella McCartney and Pharrell Williams, West’s has been one of the top names used by Adidas to boost sales, especially online.

Adidas’s announcement was followed later Tuesday by US company Gap, which said it was taking “immediate steps to remove Yeezy Gap product from our stores” in addition to shutting down YeezyGap.com.

West and Gap had announced in September that they planned to end their partnership, although Gap said at the time it planned to release several co-branded products already in development.

Paris-based fashion house Balenciaga also ended ties with the rapper last week, saying it “no longer (has) any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist”.

One of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies, CAA, said on Monday it was dropping West, while film and TV producer MRC said it was shelving an already-finished documentary about the artist.

- Inflammatory remarks -

Adidas’s decision would stop West from “using the company’s immense platform to amplify his hateful ideology about Jews”, the World Jewish Congress said in a statement.

The German group’s “delayed move” in response to the anti-Semitic comments had come after “massive public outcry”, the WJC said.

Rights campaigners and entertainment world figures had heaped pressure on Adidas to stop working with the rapper.

“Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience”, wrote Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel in the Financial Times.

“There should be no tolerance anywhere for West’s anti-Semitism.”

West’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian also appeared to join the pile-on, without mentioning the father of her children by name.

“Hate speech is never OK or excusable,” she wrote Monday on Twitter and Instagram.

“I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end.”

Adidas fell on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange following its announcement, finishing 3.2 percent lower.