Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden has opened up about his thoughts on the Kanye West controversy and why he doubts Ye meant what he said nearly a year after West’s antisemitic remarks. He shared his perspective in an interview earlier this month with Norges Bank Investment Management.
“I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world,” Gulden explained. “Both in music and what I call street culture. So, he’s extremely creative and has, together with Adi, created a Yeezy line that was very successful. And then, as creative people, he did some statements, which wasn’t that good. And that caused Adi to break the contract and withdraw the product.”
He called the breakdown in their partnership “Very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said. I don’t think he’s a bad person — it just came across that way.”
Gulden expressed his sorrow over the split, although he admitted it was always a possibility.
“[This] meant we lost that business, one of the most successful collabs in history. Very sad,” he continued. “But again, when you work with third parties that can happen. It’s part of the game. That can happen with an athlete, with an entertainer. It’s part of the business.” Watch the interview at the end of the page.
The German sportswear brand severed ties with the G.O.O.D. Music founder and discontinued his Yeezy line in November 2022. Adidas went on to report a $432 million drop in sales for the first quarter of 2023. In a statement following Kanye West’s departure, Adidas said it “does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech.
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.”
Adidas began selling off its remaining Yeezy inventory earlier this year and raked in a reported $565 million in online sales. A portion of the profits went to charitable organizations, while Ye received an undisclosed amount.