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Adidas to sell off Yeezy shoes after ditching Kanye West

May 11, 2023

The German brand plans to donate the proceeds from the sales to charitable foundations. The company cut off ties with Yeezy, formerly known as Kanye West, after he made multiple antisemitic comments.

A person wearing Adidas Yeezy Boost sneakers
The decision to cut off ties with Ye left Adidas with lots of unsold inventoryImage: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

German sportswear giant Adidas said on Thursday that it would sell off its leftover Yeezy gear for charitable causes.

The Bavaria-based company terminated its partnership in October with the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, after he made a slew of offensive and antisemitic remarks.

This resulted in appoximately €1.2 billion (1.3 billion) of unsold Yeezy-branded shoes with an uncertain future.

Adidas CEO outlines path forward for Yeezy gear

Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden told investors in Germany that burning the gear "is not the solution"

Adidas CEO Björn Gulden speaks to investors in Fürth, Germany during an annual shareholders meeting
Adidas CEO Björn Gulden is tasked with steering the company after a disastrous partnership with Kanye WestImage: Daniel Karmann/dpa/picture alliance

"What we will try to do over time is to sell part of these goods and to donate the money to organizations that help us and which also have been hurt by Kanye's statements," he said. "When we will do that and how we will do that is not clear but we're working on it."

Gulden said Adidas would not donate the shoes outright, due to fears that they may end up on the market in a roundabout way. 

Media reports suggest that the selling of the Yeezy gear would in fact help Ye financially, however. Due to a previous agreement between Adidas and Ye, the rapper would receive commissions worth 15% of turnover. 

Investors sue Adidas

Adidas is currently being sued by shareholders over its earlier partnership with Ye. The investors behind the case say the company knew about the rapper's "extreme behavior" but failed to act.  

Gulden stood by the company's yearslong deal with Ye, adding that "as difficult as he was, he is perhaps the most creative mind in our industry."

"He created a model with Adidas that was sought after around the world," Gulden remarked, while adding "we lost that in a month." 

At the beginning of 2023, Europe's largest sportswear manufacturer said it lost €400 million in sales due its breakup with Ye. The company has also been forced to slash its stock dividend after slashing the partnership.   

Other companies to have dropped Ye after his offensive remarks include Spain-founded fashion house Balenciaga and US financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co.

wd/kb (AP, AFP, dpa)