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Kanye West’s beliefs about slavery could wind up costing him when it comes to his “decacorn” Yeezy brand.
It was just Tuesday that the marathon Tweeter raised eyebrows by calling slavery a “choice” in an interview with TMZ.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said on camera. “Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all?”
West went on to praise President Donald Trump, continuing the sentiments he has previously expressed on Twitter. “I just love Trump. That’s my boy,” he said.
The comments about slavery — denying hundreds of years of resistance — have led to a petition on Care2 calling for Adidas to boycott West. The rapper moved his Yeezy brand under the umbrella of the athletic wear giant in 2013, and Adidas announced a long-term relationship with him in 2016 with plans to expand apparel and retail stores.
“While Kanye can live safely in his multimillion-dollar castle, the rest of black America is continually marginalized and subject to unjust laws and treatment. Some even die because this behavior is so ingrained in our society,” the petition reads. “Kanye West has a right to free speech, and he has the right to spout lies and misinformation and misplaced opinions — but we as consumers have the right to fight back against this type of dangerous propaganda.”
The petition ends with a plea: “Tell the world [Adidas does] not want anything to do with anyone who believes that millions of Africans chose to toil the fields in bondage.” As of Thursday morning, more than 9,000 people signed the petition, out of a goal of 10,000. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Adidas for comment.
Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted told Bloomberg TV Thursday, “Kanye and the Yeezy is a very important part for our brand. From the revenue side, less so, but it’s a very important part of how we promote our products particularly in the U.S.” He declined to comment on West’s slavery remarks, and said there have been no conversations about dropping West.
Though it’s unclear how lucrative West’s Yeezy brand truly is (Adidas does not break down sales figures by individual brands), West boasts of its successes. He tweeted that the Yeezy Desert Rat 500 sold 250,000 (not specified if pairs or dollars) in one hour at Coachella. “We are the future,” he declares. “It is a unicorn on its way to becoming a decacorn” — a startup worth $10 billion.
Yet just last week, THR raised the question of whether West was killing his brand by endorsing the controversial President Trump. A crisis management expert said West “lit the torch of war with the African-American community and liberal community.”
That war has only intensified now. Meanwhile, West’s latest clothing venture launches this weekend, which could put the theories to the test. Will the Yeezy brand be able to survive despite the negative publicity surrounding its creator?
This time, West has partnered with sportswear company 2XU, which is lending its high-tech fabric engineering to Yeezy’s Season 6 and Season 7 collections (Kim K has already been sporting the new apparel on her Instagram). Representatives of 2XU had no comment when THR reached out about West’s recent social media posts, but they said he would not be doing any personal appearances for the launch.
The Yeezy x 2XU collection goes live Saturday, featuring $400 shorts and $450 tights, which can purchased at 2XU at Los Angeles’ Westfield Century City beginning at 9 a.m. Customers must show proof of joining the Yeezy database in order to enter a lottery to then buy the collection.
A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on