‘Fall from grace’, as brands cut ties with West

By Zion Rufus 

Before the end of today, American rapper and designer Kanye “Ye” West would probably be recording the tenth brand cutting ties with him following a series of antisemitic remarks even as he loses his billionaire status as a result of the dissolved partnerships.

Some of the companies dissolving their partnerships with West include Adidas, Balenciaga, Gap, CAA(Creative Arts Agency), JPMorgan Chase, MRC; and let’s not forget social media platforms Twitter and Instagram which temporarily blocked the rapper for violating their terms-of-use policies.

While freedom of expression is “good”, as a regular person, making wildly inappropriate comments on social media, radio, or TV might get you a knock(or two) on the head; you might be lucky enough to save the day by deleting your tweet, retracting your comments, or debunking the allegations in time after realising your error. But for personalities, brands, and businesses, the consequences can be much more far-reaching.


What did Ye do???

Well, for starters, Ye had initially stirred outrage in the Black community after appearing at a surprise Yeezy Fashion Week Show in a  “White Lives Matter” shirt; let’s just say that was the beginning to an end as the outfit which was said to legitimise extremist behaviour, promptly sparked outrage on social media, even amongst the white, black and Latino communities. 

Not only did West go on a social media rampage with a slew of unsavoury comments after celebrities such as Sarah Silverman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Elon Musk, Justin Bieber, Drake, ASAP Rocky, Hailey, Gigi Hadid, Kim Kardashian, Diddy, Khloe Kardashian, and others weighed in on the subject, he also crossed moral lines on a series of now-deleted interviews.

Commenting on the “offensive” design, American rapper Boosie said in his tweet: “After all we have been through as a race, you put this disrespectful set on! You give no (F word) about how blacks have died and suffered in the hands of the white men, and you say Bush doesn’t like Black people? You just keep using your platform to sh*t on your own race, this is sad, and the black people who still support you are even sadder. Do us a favour and bleach your skin all white.”

Vogue stylist Gabriella Karefa Johnson, the First Black Woman to Style a Vogue Cover tweeted: “It’s become clear that some viewers think my previous post containing my working, evolving thoughts on Kanye’s show, was some sort of distorted justification for the incredibly irresponsible and dangerous act of sending “W*** Lives Matter” shirt’s down a runway. Please understand: it wasn’t. The tshirts this man conceived, produced, and shared with the world are pure violence. There is no excuse, there is no art here. I’m sorry I failed to make that clear-thought I did. I do think if you asked Kanye, he’d say there was art, and revolution, and all of the things in that t-shirt. There isn’t. As we all work through the trauma of this moment, especially those of us who suffered in that room, let’s have some grace for one another.”

However, West went on to bully Johnson till social media netizens had to intervene. 

In Johnson’s support, Vogue responded to West’s bullying comments: “Vogue stands with Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, our global fashion editor at large and longtime contributor. She was personally targeted and bullied. It is unacceptable. Now more than ever, voices like hers are needed and in a private meeting with Ye today she once again spoke her truth in a way she felt best, on her terms.”

As a result of the backlash, retail brand Adidas announced that the company is officially placing the YEEZY line and, by extension, their partnership with Ye “under review.”

The company’s spokesperson said: “Adidas has always been about creativity, innovation and supporting athletes and artists to achieve their vision. The Adidas Yeezy partnership is one of the most successful collaborations in our industry’s history. We are proud of our team that has worked tirelessly throughout our collaboration with Ye and the iconic products that were born from it. We also recognize that all successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values. 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.”

It got worse.


After Adidas announced that the company is placing the Yeezy partnership under review, West reacted stating: “I am Adidas! Adidas raped and stole my designs.”

West’s antisemitic comments served as the last straw which broke the camel’s back. 

He tweeted: Who do you think created a cancel culture? I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up. I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also. You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.

63 year old Jaime Lee Curtis wrote in response: “A threat to Jewish people ended once in a genocide. Your words hurt and incite violence. You are a father. Please stop. I woke up and burst into tears. Defcon 3 on Jewish people? What are you doing? It’s bad enough that fascism is on the rise around the world. But on Twitter, on a portal to pour that in? As if Jewish people haven’t had it hard enough?”



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