Sportswear giant Adidas will launch an independent investigation into allegations of wrongdoing made this week against US rapper and fashion designer Kanye West, including that he showed pornography to staff at company meetings.
The claims by unidentified staff at Yeezy and Adidas, which appeared in a Rolling Stone article Tuesday, included allegations that the musician, who has changed his name to Ye, showed an intimate photo of his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, in job interviews, and that his “problematic behavior” was overlooked by Adidas management.
Staff allegations included in a letter to Adidas received by the business included claims that Adidas “turned off their moral compass” and failed to protect employees from “years of verbal abuse, vulgar tirades and bullying”.
Adidas said in a statement Thursday that “it is currently not clear whether the allegations in an anonymous letter are true” but that it took the allegations “very seriously” and had “taken the decision to immediately launch an independent investigation into the matter.” to counter the accusations”.
The sportswear brand initially said it would not “discuss private conversations, details or events leading to our decision to terminate the Adidas Yeezy partnership,” but it had “been and continues to[d] to be actively engaged in conversations with our employees about the events that led to our decision to end the partnership”.
In an alleged incident from 2017, Ye yelled at a senior female member of the design team that a Yeezy sneaker was not up to standards. West allegedly looked down at his foot and up at the employee and said, “I want you to make me a shoe I can fuck.”
Analysts estimate that the Yeezy partnership accounts for 7% of the group’s revenue. Adidas has said it believes the loss of Yeezy will cut its projected profits in half this year. It is not yet clear whether Adidas will continue to sell the designs it owns without Yeezy’s logo, which it does not.
The decision to launch an investigation comes after one of Adidas’ biggest shareholders, Union Investment, demanded clarity about the alleged incidents. Last month, Adidas abandoned a licensing and design contract with Ye after he made anti-Semitic threats.
Janne Werning, head of ESG capital markets and stewardship at Union Investment, which has a 1% stake in Adidas, told the Financial Times: “Adidas must disclose when management and the board were first informed of the internal allegations.”