Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted said Thursday the German sports apparel company has no plans to end its endorsement and design deal with Kanye West, days after the outspoken music star’s comments on slavery drew widespread criticism.
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“We’re not going to comment or speculate on every single comment that our external creators are making,” Rorsted said during an appearance on Bloomberg TV. “Kanye has been and is a very important part of our strategy and has been a fantastic creator. That’s where I’m going to leave it.”
When pressed on the subject, Rorsted acknowledged that “there clearly are some comments we don’t support” and said Adidas expects to address the issue with West’s team.
West, who designs and endorses Adidas’ Yeezy line of footwear, drew criticism this week after an appearance on “TMZ Live.” While speaking with TMZ’s newsroom, West outlined his view on slavery in America, sparking outrage on social media.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” West said. “You was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because ‘slavery’ goes too direct to the idea of blacks. Slavery is to blacks as the Holocaust is to Jews. Prison is something that unites as one race, blacks and whites, that we’re the human race.”
West, who has also expressed support for President Donald Trump in recent days, later sought to clarify his remarks.
"Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will," West wrote on Twitter. "My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved.”
Adidas does not disclose how much its Yeezy imprint is worth to its overall business. Rorsted played down the impact of West’s comments, noting that Adidas earned nearly $25 billion in its last fiscal year.
Rorsted acknowledged that West is a “very important part of our brand from a revenue standpoint and how we promote our products.”