On October 25, one of the most lucrative urban fashion alliances in recent years officially came to an end.
Through a statement, Adidas announced the immediate end of its collaboration with Kanye West (now named Ye) and their joint brand, Yeezy. This was the sportswear giant’s reaction to the antisemitic remarks made by the American rapper and businessman – just one of his many controversial episodes.
The urban fashion partnership – which began in 2015 and put Adidas at the forefront of “streetwear” culture – is now over. However, there are still many issues that need to be resolved.
The heritage of the Adidas-West collaboration is not only symbolic, but also material. This month, the firm estimated that by not putting up its stock of Yeezy products for sale, it will lose $1.2 billion – a major hit on the company’s finances, reportedly representing about 10% of annual revenue. How Adidas will manage its future is now a mystery. The same goes for the urban fashion community, with one of its iconic brands in deep trouble.
Kanye West’s arrival to Adidas in 2015 was an earthquake in the urban fashion industry – a sector that is estimated to generate about $173 billion in global sales per year. At the height of his popularity, the rapper had released two sneaker models alongside Nike. But West wanted more: total creative control and his own clothing line.
Nike’s refusal to grant him those powers led the artist to knock on the door of rival firm Adidas. Management had noticed how Nike was ahead of them in the urban fashion sector, thanks to the Jordan brand. They promptly accepted Kanye’s offer, thus giving birth to Yeezy: a name that sparked madness among an increasingly fashion-conscious public, thanks to West’s visionary designs.