Sportswear giant Adidas is launching an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct this week against American rapper and fashion designer Kanye West, including showing pornography to staff at company meetings.
The allegations from unidentified employees of Yeezy and Adidas, which surfaced in a Rolling Stone article on Tuesday, include allegations that the musician, who has changed his name to Ye, showed an intimate photo of his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian in job interviews, and that his “problematic behavior” was overlooked by Adidas management.
Staff allegations in a letter to Adidas obtained by the outlet included claims that Adidas “turned off their moral compass” and failed to protect employees from “years of verbal abuse, vulgar rants and harassment”.
Adidas said in a statement on Thursday that “it is currently not clear whether the allegations made in an anonymous letter are true” but that it took the allegations “very seriously” and had “made the decision to immediately launch an independent investigation into the matter “. to deal with the allegations”.
The sportswear brand initially said it would not “discuss any private conversations, details or events leading up to our decision to end its partnership with Adidas Yeezy”, but it was “go ahead”.[d] be actively involved in discussions with our employees about the events that led to our decision to end the collaboration”.
In an alleged incident in 2017, Ye yelled at a senior female member of the design team that a Yeezy sneaker was not up to standard. West reportedly looked down at his foot and up at the employee and said, “I want you to make me a shoe that I can fuck.”
Analysts estimate that the Yeezy partnership accounts for 7% of the group’s sales. Adidas has said it believes Yeezy’s loss will halve expected earnings this year. It’s not yet clear if Adidas will continue to sell the designs it owns without the Yeezy logo, which it hasn’t.
The decision to launch an investigation comes after one of Adidas’ largest shareholders, Union Investment, demanded clarity over the alleged incidents. Last month, Adidas canceled a licensing and design contract with Ye after he made anti-Semitic threats.
Janne Werning, head of ESG capital markets and stewardship at Union Investment, which has a 1% stake in Adidas, told the Financial Times: “Adidas must disclose when management and supervisory board were first informed of the internal allegations .”