At this point, Kanye West seems intent on self-sabotaging his relationship with Adidas. His very public flirtation with rival Nike is becoming more frequent, as the first thing you see in a commercial for his new album Donda is a pair of Nike sneakers.
The one-minute trailer premiered during the NBA Finals and stars Sha’Carri Richardson, the U.S. runner who was left of the Olympic Team after a positive marijuana test. As the new song “No Child Left Behind” plays, the spot opens with her Nike sneakers on starting blocks. Until halfway through, when you see Beats headphones in her ears, you could easily believe it’s an advertisement for the Swoosh.
Richardson is signed with Nike, and the company has stuck with her throughout the marijuana controversy after she qualified for the Olympics. But you’d still expect West, who reportedly earned $191 million from Adidas last year, to be more careful about showcasing his business partner’s biggest competitor.
Here we go again — Earlier this month West was spotted wearing Nike socks with his Adidas Yeezy Foam Runners at Balenciaga’s Haute Couture show — considered a no-no in cross-branding by many sneakerheads and made worse by his allegiances to Adidas.
West wasn’t shy about complaining about the way Nike treated him when he decamped for Adidas, but his behavior in the last year has shown he still can’t get over his ex. In an interview with Nick Cannon last September, he said his Adidas contract should still allow him to wear Air Jordans.
“Jordans need to be part of reparations,” West said. “You can’t tell a Black man not to wear Jordans. It should be in any deal. And also, you can wear your friend’s clothes.”
As he alluded, Virgil Abloh and Ibn Jasper, two longtime friends of West, have frequently collaborated with Nike. So two has Matthew Williams, an early creative partner of Kanye West who went on to found Alyx and become creative director of Givenchy.
Supporting the homies is one thing, but how about not biting the hand that helped make you a billionaire? Adidas has yet to comment on any of West’s flirtations with Nike, and perhaps it’s begrudgingly accepted that Kanye is going to Kanye.