Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of Adidas, has given his first in-depth public comment on the fallout of his company’s relationship with Kanye West following the rapper-designer’s repeated antisemitic outbursts last year.
“I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world. Both in music and what I call street culture,” Gulden said after being questioned about West on the Norwegian podcast In Good Company.
“He’s extremely creative and has together with Adi, created a Yeezy line that was very successful. And then, as a creative person, he made some statements which wasn’t that good. And that caused Adi to break the contract and withdraw the product. Very unfortunate because I don’t think he meant what he said, and I don’t think he’s a bad person – it just came across that way.”
Gulden continued to say that Adidas lost “one of the most successful collabs in history,” which he described as “very sad.”
“When you work with third parties, that could happen. It’s part of the game. That can happen with an athlete — it can happen with an entertainer. It’s part of the business,” he added.
Adidas faced calls from all quarters of the entertainment industry and politics to drop West from its list of partners. At the time, the company issued a statement which read, in part, that the company will “end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.”
The company indicated the cost of the move would be $246 million in 2022 alone.
The companies and projects that separated from the controversial rapper included Adidas, Balenciaga, CAA, and Gap, which Ye pulled away from himself last month. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, Gersh’s Bob Gersh, and UTA’s Jeremy Zimmer all spoke out to condemn him.