Sportswear giant Adidas is to launch an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct made this week against US rapper and fashion designer Kanye West, including that he showed pornography to the staff at company meetings.
The claims from an unidentified team at Yeezy and Adidas, which came to light ia Rolling Stone article On Tuesday, allegations were made that the musician, who has changed his name to Ye, showed a personal picture of his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, in job interviews, and Adidas management ignored his “problematic behaviour”.
Staff allegations included in a letter to Adidas obtained by the outlet included claims that their moral compass was “turned off” and that it failed to protect employees from “years of verbal abuse, accidental vulgarity, and bullying attacks”.
Adidas said in a statement on Thursday that “it is currently unclear whether the allegations made in an anonymous letter are true” but that it took the claims “very seriously” and had “decided to launch an independent investigation immediately. face the allegations”.
The sportswear brand initially said it would not “discuss private conversations, details or events that led to our decision to end the Adidas Yeezy partnership” but that it was “on and on.[d] actively participate in conversations with our employees about the events that led to our decision to end the partnership”.
In one alleged incident in 2017, Ye claimed to a senior female member of the design team that a Yeezy sneaker was not up to standards. It is said that West looked down at his foot, and up at the employee, and said: “I want you to make a shoe that I can fuck for me.”
Analysts estimate that the Yeezy partnership represents 7% of the group’s revenue. Adidas has said they believe Yeezy will lose half of its expected profits this year. It remains unclear whether Adidas will continue to sell the designs, which are owned by the company, without the Yeezy logo, which it does not.
The decision to launch an inquiry comes after one of Adidas’ biggest shareholders, Union Investment, demanded clarity about the alleged incidents. Adidas last month abandoned a licensing and design deal with Ye after he made anti-Semitic threats.
Janne Werning, head of ESG capital markets and oversight of the Union Investment, which has a 1% stake in Adidas, said the Financial Times: “Adidas must disclose when management and the supervisory board were first informed of the internal allegations.”