In the wake of the controversies surrounding Kanye West and his Yeezy brand, Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden has stepped forward to defend the rapper and designer. Gulden’s recent comments have shed light on the company’s perspective on the fallout and the subsequent business decisions made in its aftermath.
Kanye West, known for his musical prowess and influence in the fashion industry, faced backlash last year due to his antisemitic remarks. This led to Adidas severing ties with West and discontinuing the Yeezy product line. Despite the public outcry and the business implications of the split, Gulden has expressed his admiration for West’s creativity. In recent interviews, he described West as “one of the most creative people in the world,” emphasizing his contributions to both music and “street culture.”
The Yeezy line, a collaboration between West and Adidas, had been a significant success story for the brand. However, West’s controversial statements led to a business decision to terminate the contract and pull Yeezy products from the market. While this move was seen as a significant blow to the collaboration, Gulden believes that West’s remarks were not a true reflection of his character. He stated, “I don’t think he meant what he said, and I don’t think he’s a bad person – it just came across that way.”
The fallout from the split was not just limited to public relations. Adidas faced a considerable business challenge, losing what Gulden described as “one of the most successful collabs in history.” Yet, he acknowledged that such risks are inherent when working with third-party collaborators, whether they are athletes or entertainers.
Interestingly, even after the split, the Yeezy brand continued to influence Adidas’s financial performance. The company decided to sell off existing Yeezy models, leading to an 85% increase in sales for the brand. This move helped offset some of the losses Adidas faced in the second quarter, which amounted to over $491 million. The sale of Yeezy products played a crucial role in reducing the projected loss of $764 million.
Kanye West’s Yeezy brand, despite the controversies, remains a significant revenue generator. Reports suggest that West earned a staggering $25 million in royalties from Adidas in just 24 hours after the remaining Yeezy stock sold out.