Sole owner

Ye is out, but Yeezy is staying at Adidas

Adidas owns the IP, designs, and colorways for Yeezy sneakers
Will it be "Ezy" to take Ye out?
Will it be "Ezy" to take Ye out?
Photo: Jonathan Leibson (Getty Images)
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Adidas will still sell Yeezys but under a different branding.

After ending its partnership with rapper Ye, formerly Kanye West, after his anti-semitic tirade just over two weeks ago, the sportswear giant finally has some answers about the future of the popular sneaker sub-brand co-designed with their former partner. Because the company owns the designs it made with Ye, it can—and it probably will—sell the shoes, chief financial officer (and interim CEO until Dec. 31) Harm Ohlmeyer said on the company’s Nov. 9 earnings call.

“Let me be clear, we own all the IP [intellectual property], we own all the designs, we own all the versions and new colorways,” Ohlmeyer said.

The relaunched designs without Ye’s mark could hit stores as early as 2023.

Ye is not going to be happy with Adidas selling Yeezys

Even before Adidas and Ye parted ways, cracks had appeared in their relationship. In June 2020, Ye called the new Yeezy Slide-looking Adilette 22 a “fake Yeezy.” The next month, he messaged magazine Complex’s Instagram account, complaining about Adidas creating the annual ‘Yeezy Day’ (Aug. 2) for highly-anticipated drops, and picking names and colorways for sneakers without his approval. He also lamented the lack of physical Adidas stores dedicated to his brand.

Ye has yet to publicly comment on the latest comments from his former partner. He’s banned from Instagram and he’s not been on Parler—the platform he agreed to buy last month—nor Twitter for almost a week.

Meanwhile, some social media users have accused the Three Stripes firm of having a “performative conscience,” where they disapprove of Ye but continue to profit from him—just not in name. Like American football cornerback Jalen Ramsey said in an Instagram story: “If you don’t rock wit somebody, why would you still use they designs!? 🤔”

Quotable: Do analysts think Adidas should sell Yeezy without Ye?

“Adidas claims it is the sole owner of the design rights to the existing Yeezy products, but it should refrain from relaunching items under its own brand, as they will always be synonymous with West, and this would likely result in muted customer demand,” —GlobalData apparel analyst Darcey Jupp

Yeezy, by the digits

$2 billion: Yeezy sales in 2021, 8% of Adidas’ overall sales

€250 million: Adidas’ revised full-year guidance for net operating income, down from 500 million in October.

€300 million: savings in royalties, marketing fees by rebranding the sneaker line

142: employees who lost their jobs in the Adidas-Ye breakup

Person of interest: Bjørn Gulden

Despite being beaten down by economic headwinds, China’s zero-Covid policy, and the Ye controversy, the German company has reason to be optimistic: On Jan. 1, 2023, it’s getting a new CEO that it poached from rival Puma. Hiring 51-year-old succeeding Kasper Rorsted is “game-changing” for Adidas, analysts say. During his nine-year stint as the Puma chief, Gulden helped lift annual sales by over $5 billion annually.

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