Fans of the Yeezy brand have taken to social media to express their displeasure with Adidas’ plans to reuse the intellectual property (IP) rights for the popular shoes after their tumultuous breakup with hip-hop icon Kanye West, aka Ye. One Twitter user even called the Ye-less Yeezys “Walmart shoes” and an NFL star criticized the athleticwear giant for continuing with the designs without maintaining the partnership with West.
In a call with media last week, Adidas stopped short of outright confirming that current unsold Yeezy shoes will be rebranded, but interim CEO and chief financial officer Harm Ohlmeyer said that the company would repurposing existing, evergreen and carryover products to offload built-up inventory.
When combined with the fact that Ohlmeyer said Adidas still owns the IP rights to the Yeezy shoe designs and colorways, a potential Yeezy rebrand appears to be inevitable.
“It’s our IP, it’s our product. We do not own the Yeezy name, so we believe interesting plans are coming to fruition in 2023 and that’s what we’re working to,” Ohlmeyer said. His verbiage leaned closer toward a confirmation of a rebrand in the company’s official earnings call, saying that Adidas does “intend to make use of these rights as early as 2023.”
Regardless of the legal rights of the Adidas-Yeezy shoe designs, consumers took to Twitter to vent their grievances with the Three Stripes. Mirroring some of Ye’s own criticisms of his previous partnerships with Adidas and Gap, the chief issue riling up his fans is that Adidas would still be making money off of product that, by and large, gained popularity strictly because of Ye’s influence.
The @Yzyupdates Twitter account that follows and posts news related to Yeezys shared an Instagram post from NFL All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who voiced his displeasure over Adidas’ possible 2023 plans.
Another Twitter user, @BragDifferently, said a Yeezy shoe without Ye’s blessing would have “no value,” and that they look like “Walmart shoes.”
For all the outcry, few details are available about how or when any of the Yeezy shoes would be repurposed, or how they would be priced.
“We need to take our time to review what are the best options, and there are several options that we’re working through,” Ohlmeyer said in the press call on Wednesday.
Not all Twitter users are as pessimistic about the Adidas/Yeezy dynamic. One user expects many won’t care about the difference.
The perceived value of the rebranded Yeezys is likely going to be a central argument and source of division among consumers. Without the Yeezy branding, many sneakerheads may consider the new Adidas shoes as glorified knockoffs that carry the same value as counterfeit sneakers.
Although it has taken a massive short-term financial hit from the split—to the tune of about $250.8 million—Adidas also expects to save roughly $301.5 million in royalty payments and marketing fees by discontinuing its relationship with Ye.
Adidas and Yeezy’s other fashion footwear partner Balenciaga formally ended their relationship with Ye after his antisemitic remarks on social media. Gap and Ye severed ties a month prior, after the artist claimed the retailer failed to live up to the terms of the agreement such as distributing Yeezy products in its stores.