November 30, 2023


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Kanye West and Adidas: How misconduct broke up a profitable partnership

Kanye West and Adidas: How misconduct broke up a profitable partnership

Adidas employees quickly discovered that Mr. West was full of ideas. They also learned that he was working unlike anyone else they had encountered.

He can get excited to the point of creating chaos. Early on, he showed up unexpectedly at Adidas’ New York office with Ms. Kardashian and sewing machines worth tens of thousands of dollars. It was so annoying that he was sent to a studio on the other side of town. Once immersed in the design work, he became so obsessed with every detail that it was difficult to finish anything.

He was quick to anger when frustrated. As the deadline for Yeezy’s first fashion show approached in February 2015, he criticized, using sexually explicit language, Rachel Muscat – a rare female manager in a male-dominated industry – and other Adidas employees. Some complained about verbal abuse directed at senior Adidas officials, according to several team members. (Some current and former Adidas employees and Mr. West interviewed for this article spoke only on condition of anonymity because they are bound by nondisclosure agreements.)

However, attention quickly turned to the show, as the shoes attracted rave reviews. During that night’s performance, Mr. West, Travis Scott and other rappers wore new Yeezys, a preview of the promotion the artist and the high-profile people around him could generate for Adidas.

The shoes were released in limited quantities over the next few months, and sold out within hours, causing server crashes and price spikes on resale sites. They have captured sneakerheads, fashionistas and even athletes who have endorsement deals with Adidas’ competitors.

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First came the suede high-top shoe, followed by the boot Yeezy Boost 350 – A stylish sneaker inspired by Nike’s Roshe Run and nicknamed the “Roshe Killer” within Adidas. It had a flat toe, not the standard rolled toe that Mr. West despised. Yeezy has put a twist on Adidas innovations: Boost foam, a new cushioning technology, in the sole, and a patterned knit fabric on the upper. The shoe was not suitable for running or sports, but it was a complement to sportswear that was becoming popular.

“He challenges everything, but he puts his full energy into how he challenges him, and you’ll see the results,” said Nick Galloway, Adidas’ chief designer. he said in a 2015 interview.

The 350 shoes received top honors that year at the annual industry awards ceremony, considered the “Oscars of Shoes.”

As he took the stage with Mr. Wexler, Ms. Muscat and Arthur Hold, a senior Adidas executive, Mr. West acknowledged that he could be a difficult partner. “It’s great to be here with the three people I’ve yelled at the most in the past year,” he beamed.

He later added: “John basically saved my life.”