Adidas says its relationship with Kanye West is under review

Kanye West at an event announcing a partnership with Adidas on June 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
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Sneaker and apparel maker Adidas said Thursday it is reviewing its relationship with the outspoken Kanye West.

“After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review. We will continue to co-manage the current product during this period,” the company said in a statement.

Adidas announced its partnership with West in 2013. The rapper cemented his relationship with the German brand in 2016 to manufacture and distribute items from his Yeezy clothing line.

He’s recently been publicly critical of the company and its CEO, accusing the sportswear brand of not giving him enough control over the line and telling CNBC “they were copying my ideas.”

In the past few months, West has gone on a social media tirade against the company, calling out CEO Kasper Rorsted and posting pictures of board members. In early September, Kanye posted a doctored image of a New York Times front page falsely claiming Rorsted had died.

West responded Thursday to CNBC’s story on the latest Adidas statement in an explicit Instagram post, saying “F——– ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS.”

The company has said the partnership with Yeezy is one of the most successful collaborations in the history of the industry.

“He’s had a tremendous impact globally for us,” Rorsted told CNBC in August. “Kanye is our most important partner worldwide. We have a very, very good relationship with him. We communicate with him on a very ongoing basis. And we’re very proud of that relationship.”

Last month, West’s Yeezy terminated its partnership with retailer Gap. That partnership saw Yeezy clothing sold at Gap stores and online. But West similarly claimed he wasn’t given enough control over the items, including color selection and price point.

“Yeezy notified Gap of its concerns in August and gave the company a contractually-designated 30 days to cure its breaches,” Nicholas Gravante, a lawyer for West, told CNBC at the time. Gravante said Gap took no action on the concerns, so Yeezy ended the relationship.

Gravante didn’t immediately return request for comment Thursday on the Adidas update or West’s response.

West’s sneaker and apparel business with Adidas AG and Gap, was recently valued at between $3.2 billion and $4.7 billion by UBS Group AG, according to a private document reviewed by Bloomberg.

—CNBC’s Jack Stebbins contributed to this report.

Sophie Tremblay

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