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'My wife just sent me this.' Kanye West's behaviour at Adidas was much worse than you thought.

Mamamia logo Mamamia 24/11/2022 Belinda Jepsen
'My wife just sent me this.' Kanye West's behaviour at Adidas was much worse than you thought. © Getty Images 'My wife just sent me this.' Kanye West's behaviour at Adidas was much worse than you thought.

Kanye West, who now goes by the name Ye, has been testing the loyalty of his collaborators for a while now. There was the feud with Taylor Swift, the time he described slavery as "a choice", his failed 2020 presidential bid, and the many false accusations he levelled at his wife, Kim Kardashian, during their divorce (including that she'd put "a hit" out on him).

Then came October and the tipping point.

In the space of a few weeks, Ye wore a 'White Lives Matter' t-shirt to Paris Fashion Week, and gave an interview in which he made anti-Semitic comments and claimed Minnesota man George Floyd died of a drug overdose rather than police violence.

Balenciaga dumped him. Vogue vowed not to work with him. But it was the cancellation of Ye's almost decade-long collaboration with Adidas that caused the biggest waves. 

Watch: Ye describes slavery of Black people in America as "a choice..." Post continues below. 

Video via TMZ

The German sportswear brand, which produced West's hugely popular fashion label Yeezy, said it was prepared to cop the €250m (AU$386m) hit to its income for the year in order to take a stand over Ye's behaviour. 

"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 said in a statement announcing the decision.

To the outside world, it looked like the brand had done the right thing. But this week, we're hearing voices from the inside. And they are arguing that it was too little, and far, far too late.

The Rolling Stone allegations.

On Wednesday, Rolling Stone published a damning exposé that features allegations from more than two dozen Adidas and Yeezy staff about Ye's behaviour in the workplace.

Among the many disturbing claims leveraged by the magazine is that on at least two occasions the 45-year-old showed staff intimate and explicit photographs of his then-wife, Kim Kardashian. One source alleges they were meeting Ye for a job interview when he "nonchalantly" pulled out his phone and said, "My wife just sent me this."

The sources also make allegations that Ye displayed intimidating and belittling behaviour including yelling at staff, calling them names, making a female employee sit on the floor because she didn't "deserve to sit at the table". They told Rolling Stone Ye also regularly made highly sexualised comments, in particular in relation to his designs (for example, "I literally want to f*** my shoes.") and that he played pornography in front of employees on multiple occasions.

Ye has not commented publicly on the accusations. 

But he did recently share evidence of such behaviour, along with an apparent confession to "screaming" and "hitting" Adidas staff.

In a video uploaded to his YouTube channel amid the split with the brand, Ye captured a conversation between himself and two Adidas executives in which he appears to accuse the company of stealing his designs. 

In the clip, Ye — who has previously spoken about having a pornography addiction — shows the executives an explicit video then says, "You guys have done wrong by the company, by the business, and by the partnership. The whole concept of this [pornographic] video is that the guy had cheated, so then the girl was like, 'Well, I'm going to do the thing that's your worst nightmare.'"

Ye then tells the executives their "worst nightmare is not me like hitting you, your worst nightmare is not me playing the porn, your worst nightmare is not me screaming — we've done all this. Your worst nightmare is him [pointing to one of his associates]."

The open letter: "terrorising behaviour".

The Rolling Stone article also contains details of an open letter reportedly sent this week by several former senior Yeezy employees to Adidas' executive board members and incoming CEO Bjørn Gulden. 

The letter describes "Kanye's terrorising behaviour" and urges the brand to address "the toxic and chaotic environment that Kanye West created".

"He has, in years past, exploded at women in the room with offensive remarks, and would resort to sexually disturbing references when providing design feedback. This type of response from a brand partner is one that Adidas employees should never be subjected to, nor should Adidas leadership ever tolerate," the letter reads, according to Rolling Stone.

"As much as we all would love to solely blame Kanye, the undeniable truth is that the Adidas executive team and the board have been huge enablers."

The brand told the magazine, "We have been and continue to be actively engaged in conversations with our employees about the events that lead [sic] to our decision to end the partnership. They have our full support..."

Feature image: Getty.

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