The rapper-turned-fashion mogul’s since-deleted Instagram post included a Kobe Bryant reference hinting at a potential split with Adidas. In December 2020, the angel investor and Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar claimed he met with the late basketball star weeks before his sudden death to discuss a potential player-owned footwear company called Mamba separate from the former Laker’s lucrative Nike deal.
“Driving down the same street Kobe passed on,” Ye wrote. “Maybe I feel that Mamba spirit right now[.] To [Adidas CEO] Kasper [Rørsted,] I’m not standing for this blatant copying no more.”
Ye’s ire centers on the Adilette 22 slides Adidas launched this month. Both released colorways have sold out and a third design is scheduled to drop July 8. According to the slides’ product page, the distinctive footwear was “inspired by 3D topography and human expeditions to Mars.” Adidas priced the Adilette 22 at $55, $15 less than the $70 a restock of Yeezy slides fetched in May, according to Billboard. The footwear does not share the ridged bottom nor the smooth overall design of the Yeezy Slide.
“This is for everyone who wants to express themselves but feel they can’t cause they’ll loose [sic] their contract or be called crazy,” Ye wrote. “These shoes represent the disrespect that people in power have to the talent…. Kasper come talk to me[.] Happy Monday.”
A split with Adidas would not be Ye’s first with a major sneaker brand. The rapper originally allied himself with Nike, releasing the Air Yeezy in 2009—a 2008 prototype sold for $1.8 million last year in an auction—and the Air Yeezy 2 in 2012. In 2013, however, the collaborators parted ways. Their last shoe together, the Air Yeezy 2 Red October, dropped in February 2014 after the breakup.
In a 2018 interview with Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne tha God, Ye said he left Nike because the company refused to allow him to receive royalties. He also lamented that then-Nike CEO Mark Parker “wouldn’t get on the phone” with him. At Adidas, by comparison, he had the CEO’s cell phone number and could call him “directly.” Herbert Hainer was serving as the German footwear giant’s chief executive when Ye began working with the company. Rørsted took the helm in 2016.
Ye has voiced his displeasure with Adidas before. In September 2020, he tweeted he would wear Nike’s Jordan brand until he received a seat on Adidas’ board. Ye made a similar request from his then-newly minted partner Gap, writing that he was “NOT RELEASING NOTHING ON GAP TILL I’M ON THE BOARD.” He did not receive a seat on either board, but continued to release products with both partners.