On Wednesday, the German athletic company announced that new Yeezys will go on sale in 2023. After his antisemitic comments, adidas cut ties with West last month. It was then revealed that adidas retains the rights to West’s designs without having to pay him any more money. That’s not a slam dunk for adidas though, as they announced that they’re taking a $500M hit after ending the lucrative partnership.
“adidas is the sole owner of all design rights registered to existing product,” adidas CFO Harm Ohlmeyer said in an annual earnings call this week. “We intend to make use of these rights as early as 2023.”
However, there seems to be a clause in Ye’s deal with adidas that he does get paid if the company moves forward with his designs. There are 14 Yeezy different shoe designs and Ye only holds a patent on the Yeezy slides, leaving the others up to reproduction by the brand. It could follow what happened when adidas put out an alternate slide, drawing Ye’s ire even before their alliance came to an end.
Ye’s nine-year partnership with adidas helped make the rapper/designer a billionaire. Per Forbes, who calculated Ye’s net worth in 2020 at his request, Ye made the bulk of his fortune through his affiliation with the Yeezy brand. Forbes rescinded that designation this year after the fallout.
“adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” adidas said in a press release after dropping West. “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. After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products, and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. adidas will stop the adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.”
If there is anything in the language of the contract that says Ye gets paid regardless, he may have to go to court to prove it, because if their contract includes a morals clause adidas likely has the right to cut ties without compensation.
Ohlmeyer was asked if he believes that the company’s brand will be tarnished by working with existing Yeezy designs and colorways without the person who created them in the first place and his negative associations.
“We are working through all the options,” Ohlmeyer told reporters on the call. “When the time is right we will be more specific.”