Kanye West and Adidas: How misconduct broke up a lucrative partnership | ET REALITY


Adidas employees quickly discovered that West was full of ideas. They also learned that he operated like no one they had ever met.

You could be excited to the point of creating chaos. At first, he showed up unexpectedly at the Adidas office in New York with Ms. Kardashian and sewing machines worth tens of thousands of dollars. He was so disruptive that they sent him to a studio across town. Once immersed in design work, he became so obsessed with every detail that it was difficult for him to finish anything.

And he got angry quickly when he was frustrated. Upon deadline for the first Yeezy show in February 2015, he lashed out, using sexually explicit language, at Rachel Muscat, the rare female manager in a male-dominated industry, and other Adidas employees. Some complained about verbal abuse toward Adidas superiors, according to several team members. (Like other current and former Adidas employees and Mr. West interviewed for this article, they spoke only on condition of anonymity because they are bound by confidentiality agreements.)

However, attention quickly turned to the show, where the shoes attracted praise. Performing that night, West, Travis Scott and other rappers wore the new Yeezys, a preview of the promotion the artist and the high-profile people around him could generate for Adidas.

Released in limited runs over the next few months, the shoes sold out within hours, crashing servers and causing prices to skyrocket on resale sites. They hooked sneakerheads, fashionistas and even athletes who had endorsement deals with Adidas rivals.

First came the suede high top sneakers, followed by the Yeezy Boost 350 – a sleek sneaker inspired by Nike’s Roshe Run and dubbed “the Roshe Killer” within Adidas. It had a flat front, not the standard rolled toe that Mr. West disdained. He put a Yeezy spin on Adidas innovations: Boost foam, a new cushioning technology, in the sole and a printed knit fabric on the upper. The shoe was not suitable for running or sports, but it complemented the sportswear that was becoming fashionable.

“He challenges everything, but he puts all his energy into how he challenges it, and you see the results,” said Nic Galway, one of Adidas’ top designers. he said in a 2015 interview.

The 350 won top honors that year at the industry’s annual awards ceremony, considered the “Oscars of footwear.”

Taking the stage with Wexler, Muscat and Arthur Hoeld, a senior Adidas executive, West acknowledged he could be a difficult partner. “It’s great to be here with the three people I’ve yelled at the most over the past year,” he said, smiling.

Changing his tune, he later added, “Jon basically saved my life.”

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