Just two weeks ago, Kanye West was the first model to stomp down the runway in Balenciaga’s mud-splattered 2023 Paris Fashion Week show.
Now, as WWD first reported Friday, Balenciaga has officially cut all ties with West in the wake of a series of anti-Semitic remarks made by the rapper and designer. Kering, Balenciaga’s parent company, did not state the reason for their decision.
“Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist,” Kering told WWD. Images of West donning Balenciaga apparel and accessories have been axed from the brand’s website entirely. The Daily Beast reached out to Kering for comment.
As the backlash from the fashion community builds, and with Balenciaga becoming the latest major company to sever all connections, it seems evident to everyone but West that each one of his remaining links to the fashion world is very much in jeopardy.
In September, West reportedly terminated his relationship with the Gap two years into a 10-year contract after criticizing the company, which he said took credit for his designs and shut him out of the creative process. Under the terms of the split, Gap is still allowed to sell Yeezy Gap clothing.
At Paris Fashion Week, West dressed models in the show for his latest YZY collection in “White Lives Matter” shirts, sparking intense outrage. Since then, West has been on something resembling a sustained tirade, suggesting LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault “KILLED MY BEST FRIEND,” a likely reference to designer Virgil Abloh, who passed away in 2021 after battling cancer.
Tremaine Emory, the creative director of Supreme, hit back at West for the comment. “Your best friend Virgil, NEGRO PLEASE, this time last year you said Virgil’s designs are a disgrace to the black community in front of all your employees at Yeezy,” Emory wrote on Instagram.
Days later, West claimed that he was initially offered the post of artistic director at Louis Vuitton that ultimately went to Abloh, and experienced “a lot of pain and jealousy” as a result.
In the days following Paris Fashion Week, West appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight to claim he was “pro-life,” falsely claimed George Floyd died due to ingesting fentanyl, and tweeted that he was going to go “death con 3 on Jewish people,” a comment that got him locked out of Instagram and Twitter.
As more fashion world heavy-hitters moved to distance themselves from West, his fury did not abate.
In response to the announcement from Adidas that they were putting their partnership with West under review, West wrote “FUUUUUUCK ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS ADIDAS RAPED AND STOLE MY DESIGNS” on Instagram.
“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 its statement.
West’s complicated relationship with Adidas is well-documented: West and the brand first launched a collaboration in 2015, debuting with the YEEZY BOOST 750 shoe. West and Adidas have continued to release a series of now-ubiquitous sneakers and conceptually alien slides under the Yeezy line, which, according to the Washington Postgenerates approximately $2 billion a year for Adidas, almost 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue.
But in June, West took to Instagram to raise the alarm about the brand’s newly-released Adilette 22 sandals, which West called “a fake YEEZY made by Adidas themselves.” Before announcing that their relationship with West was under review in October, Adidas hadn’t commented publicly on his incendiary posts.
“The thing about it being Adidas is like, I can literally say antisemitic s*** and they cannot drop me”
The Anti-Defamation League is urging Adidas to sever all ties with West, and other fashion luminaries, like model Gigi Hadid, have spoken out to admonish him for his behavior, but West is defiant: “The thing about it being Adidas is like, I can literally say Antisemitic s*** and they cannot drop me,” West said this week on the Drink Champs podcast. “Now what?”
The Daily Beast reached out to Adidas for comment.
Harlem-based brand Legendary6ix and designer Franky Baca have also accused West of “borrowing” design ideas without giving them proper credit.
Baca, whose concern is with YZY SHDZ sunglasses, told Rolling Stone that West collaborator Digital Nas had reached out to him: “I’m talking to their creatives and stuff and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is nice. We love this,’” Baca said. “They were telling me, ‘Yeah, Ye’s going to love this.’ So I was like, ‘All right, cool.’ And then, next thing I know, I see pictures of my glasses design on social media.”
Other fashion institutions are speaking out against West. After West mocked Vogue Journalist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson with Instagram posts in response to her criticism of his White Lives Matter collection, fashion magazine Vogue released a statement in support of its employee.
Vogue “stands with” Karefa-Johnson, the magazine said in its statement. “Now more than ever, voices like hers are needed. In a private meeting with Ye today, she once again spoke her truth in a way she felt best, on her terms.”
Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour was spotted posing with West at New York Fashion Week in September, but hasn’t commented publicly on any of his recent remarks.
The Daily Beast reached out to Condé Nast and Wintour for comment.
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