Who Owns the Yeezy Brand Now? Adidas Ended Partnership
Adidas announced on Oct. 25, 2022, that it was ending its partnership with Kanye West's brand, Yeezy. So, who owns the Yeezy brand now?
The partnership between rapper and fashion designer Ye (Kanye West) and Adidas hit rocky terrain in June 2022 after Ye accused the brand of releasing shoes (Adilette 22) that closely resembled his Yeezy slides.
While the two were able to reconcile their differences back then, they ran into another issue in October 2022, which forced Adidas to end the production of Yeezy-branded products. So, who owns the Yeezy brand now?
Since his separation from billionaire Kim Kardashian, Ye seems to have spiraled out of control, losing lucrative business deals in the process.
Who owns the Yeezy brand? Here’s why Adidas terminated its partnership with the brand as well as details on the complicated ownership rights.
Both Kanye West and Adidas share ownership rights of Yeezy-branded products.
Although West owns 100 percent of the Yeezy brand, giving him ownership over the Yeezy trademark, Adidas stated in a recent press release that it "is the sole owner of all design rights to existing products as well as previous and new colorways under the partnership."
Up until Oct. 25, 2022, Adidas had an exclusive footwear deal with Yeezy, allowing each to work together and collect a share of the profits.
The deal between Yeezy and Adidas started back in 2015 when Ye released the Boost 750, the first Adidas Yeezy shoe. It was originally speculated that West’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian was a partial owner of the Yeezy brand, but it was later revealed that West has full ownership of the company.
The billionaire did, however, claim in an interview that he owes Philadelphia rapper Beanie Sigel $50 million and a 5 percent stake in Yeezy because he came up with the name. That would make Sigel the only other co-owner of the fashion brand besides West, but Ye’s promise hasn't come to fruition yet.
During the time Ye partnered with Adidas, he earned 15 percent royalties on Yeezy footwear sales.
Adidas dropped the Yeezy brand after Ye made antisemitic comments.
On Oct. 25, 2022, Adidas announced that it would be cutting ties (and production) with West's brand, Yeezy. Not only did West post antisemitic remarks on social media, including a Twitter post that read "death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE," but his behavior has been erratic more often. At a 2022 Yeezy runway show, West was spotted wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt.
After calls from celebrities and organizations grew louder for Adidas to cut ties with Ye, it finally did. Adidas said, "Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness."
Now, some months after the split, Adidas revealed that it still has nearly $1.3 billion worth of Yeezy inventory it doesn't know what to do with, the New York Post reported. While the company can't burn it as it would be a "sustainability issue," it also can't sell it.
Nike was the first company to partner with Ye.
Before Adidas, Nike was actually the first company to partner with West for a shoe deal, coming out with a Yeezy brand before Adidas. The two partnered from 2009 until 2013, launching the Air Yeezys. That helped West become a prominent name in the fashion industry and made him a more desirable target with his Yeezy brand.
The Nike-Yeezy partnership was short-lived as West reportedly wanted royalties as a part of their deal, but Nike didn't give him any royalties for the Air Yeezy line. During that period, it wasn't common for celebrities and even artists to earn royalties on collaboration projects.
Michael Jordan only earns 5 percent royalties on Jordan sales, even though he revolutionized Nike and the entire sportswear industry and paved the way for top athletes such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.