Adidas has launched an investigation into allegations that it turned a blind eye to Ye’s inappropriate behavior while running Yeezy and making shoes for the German sportswear giant.
the investigation comes after Rolling Stone report Detailed incidents of inappropriate and often sexualized treatment of staff by the rapper and fashion designer known formally as Kanye West. The report, which cited more than two dozen former Yeezy and Adidas employees, said Adidas was aware of Ye’s “disruptive behavior” but ignored the allegations and “turned off her moral compass.”
Adidas has already dropped Kanye West after his tirade of anti-Semitic and racist comments in mid-November, which wiped out Yeezy’s entire valuation and slashed $1.5 billion from Ye’s net worth. The bitter split between Adidas and Yeezy also left a mark on Adidas’ profit forecasts, which the company has twice had to cut by as much as 250 million euros for the year.
Adidas says it launched the investigation after receiving an anonymous letter it says Rolling Stone, came from several high-ranking Yeezy employees. In it, the author or authors urged Adidas to address “the toxic and chaotic environment that Kanye West created” and “a very sick pattern of predatory behavior towards women.”
“This type of response from a brand partner is one that Adidas employees should never be subjected to, nor should Adidas leadership tolerate,” the letter states.
In a statement to FortuneAdidas said that while it is unclear whether the allegations are true, “we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation into the matter immediately to address the allegations.”
In the Rolling Stone report, the former Yeezy and Adidas staffer claims Ye showed Yeezy staff pornography at meetings and showed intimate photos of Kim Kardashian and sex videos of himself with various women during meetings and job interviews. In the anonymous letter sent to Adidas, the former employees also said that Ye in recent years “exploited at the women in the room with offensive comments and resorted to sexually disturbing references when he provided design feedback.”
While it’s hard to imagine a boss displaying pornography at a business meeting, in mid-October, Ye himself posted a 30 minute documentary on YouTube displaying such behavior. In the video, titled In the past week, Kanye is seen showing two Adidas executives a pornographic film while stating that the voice of one of the porn actors resembles that of one of the executives, who dismisses the suggestion.
Asset management company Union Investment, which owns a 0.76% stake in Adidas, wrote to the company demanding more information on these claims. “Adidas needs to disclose when management and the supervisory board were first made aware of the internal allegations,” Janne Werning, head of ESG capital markets and management at Union Investment, said in a statement to Reuters.
Pete Fox, who served as Yeezy’s president in 2016, was the only person to speak on the record. Rolling Stone article, saying, “I never watched porn with him or anything like that, but we did watch things together that might surprise people.”
Fox also defended Ye, saying that “in high fashion, there’s a lot of sexy and controversial stuff that they maybe reference or look at, unlike a company like Adidas, where you’d never show nudity on a moodboard.”
Since Adidas dumped Ye, it has replaced its chief executive with Bjorn Gulden, the former chief executive of rival Puma. Gulden will take over in January to try to help the company recover from the Ye controversy as well as boost sales in China, which have reeled amid consumer boycotts of Western brands.
As for Ye, the fashion designer has had few people to turn to since the controversy over his anti-Semitic and racist comments. The talent agencies that represent him—Creative Artists Agency and United Talent Agency—his attorneys for him at Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich, the fashion magazine Fashion, and the production company that made his documentary, MRC Entertainment, broke ties with the artist. Additionally, brands like Balenciaga, Gap, Foot Locker, and Sketchers condemned Ye and refused to work with him.
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