Home » Kanye West didn’t mean antisemitic comments, says Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden

Kanye West didn’t mean antisemitic comments, says Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden

by Omokolade Ajayi
Kanye West

Almost a year after Adidas severed ties with Kanye West due to a string of controversial comments, Bjorn Gulden, the CEO of the renowned German sportswear giant, has come forward to defend the artist, now officially known as “Ye.” Gulden voiced his belief that West did not intend harm with his remarks and portrayed him as a creative force despite the partnership’s termination.

Last year, Adidas ended its lucrative collaboration with West, known for his Yeezy brand, following a series of offensive and antisemitic comments. This decision came after the partnership had propelled West’s fortune to a staggering $2 billion.

Gulden 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.” While acknowledging that West had made regrettable statements, Gulden went on to praise the multi-industry creative, calling him “one of the most creative people in the world … both in music and what I will call street culture,” but emphasized that “ending the partnership was appropriate.”

Following the termination of the Adidas-Yeezy collaboration in October 2022, the sportswear giant made an unconventional decision earlier this year. Rather than disposing of the existing inventory of Yeezy sneakers produced in partnership with Kanye West, the company chose to sell them.

In May, Gulden revealed that Adidas possessed an impressive inventory of 500 million Yeezy shoes, valued at more than $1 billion, and planned to gradually release them to the market. He also announced that a portion of the proceeds from these sales would be donated to organizations affected by West’s controversial statements.

The first batch of Yeezy sneakers was launched in June and saw unprecedented demand, quickly selling out. This success resulted in an operating profit of €176 million ($193.8 million) in the second quarter, surpassing initial projections.

The triumph of the initial sale led to approximately 20 to 25 percent of the Yeezy sneakers being cleared from warehouses, contributing €150 million ($165.2 million) to Adidas’ operating earnings for the April-to-June period.

The resounding success of the initial sale has prompted Adidas to initiate a second round of sales for West’s Yeezy sneakers. This move underscores the enduring commercial appeal of West’s line, despite the controversy surrounding the artist.

Adidas appears to be embracing a balanced approach, expressing support for West’s creative talents while upholding its decision to sever the partnership in light of his controversial statements. The successful Yeezy sneaker sales indicate that, even post-controversy, West’s brand continues to captivate consumers worldwide.

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