Fashion and Style

Have Kanye West Fans Had Enough?

Brea Cowans is selling her Yeezys for just $75. She started out with 15 pairs and is down to her final two. For Ms. Cowans, 28, Kanye West’s recent antisemitic statements were the last straw, enough for her to disavow Mr. West, an artist whose music and fashion designs she has been a fan of for years.

“It affected me in a way where, for me, as a double-sided coin — as a Black Jew — it was a bit too much for me to have someone that I idolized say something so out of pocket,” Ms. Cowans said. She plans to keep two pairs for sentimental reasons: Yeezy Adidas Foam Runners, which were a gift, and a pair of Air Yeezy 2 NRG Pure Platinums, for which she stood in line in New York City to buy years ago.

“I’ve been a fan of Kanye since I was a kid. Down to the music, down to the innovative style, as far as streetwear influence, that he has had in the fashion community,” said Ms. Cowans, who lives in Denver and works in health care as well as for her brother’s clothing company, Adult Entertainment. “The music that he made kind of changed the outlook on our generation’s perspective on music.”

“But as far as the fashion portion goes in his later antics,” she added, “I can’t necessarily stand behind that.”

Marcus Carter, 36, said that he knew sneaker collectors who sold all their Yeezys when Mr. West made his “slavery was a choice” comment in a 2018 interview with TMZ. “Of course, I didn’t like that comment as well, but I still just kind of, you know, it’s like, well, I’m going to keep my sneakers and not sell them,” said Mr. Carter, 36, a logistics analyst who lives in Memphis and runs a small YouTube channel devoted to sneakers.

Mr. West’s most recent controversial behavior began during his YZYSZN9 Paris Fashion Week show on Oct. 3, which drew criticism when he wore a shirt emblazoned with the words “White Lives Matter.” On Oct. 6, Adidas said it was placing its partnerships with Mr. West under review. “What more do you need to review?” the Anti-Defamation League wrote in a statement posted on Oct. 20.

“I can say antisemitic things, and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what? Now what?” Mr. West said on the Oct. 16 episode of the podcast “Drink Champs,” which is hosted by the rapper N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. (The episode has since been deleted, but clips are still circulating on social media.) This week, Adidas announced it was cutting ties with Mr. West. The move, the company wrote in a statement, could cost the company up to 250 million euros (about $246 million) this year.

Adidas is not the only company cutting ties. Gap had already ended its partnership with Mr. West in September but announced this week it was pulling all of Mr. West’s remaining merchandise from its stores and online. Footlocker did the same. CAA, Mr. West’s former talent agency, is no longer representing him, and the studio MRC announced this week it was scrapping a documentary project about him.

Still, despite Mr. West’s statements over the years, some fans, such as Mr. Carter, are standing by his work.

“I more so look at his mental health when it comes to his comments and things of this nature,” Mr. Carter said. “It seems like he’s, you know, maybe having a breakdown or something. And I more so worry about that, like, how is he healthwise?” Mr. Carter added that he had a stepfather with bipolar disorder, a diagnosis Mr. West shares.

If Mr. West releases new designs, independently or with another brand collaboration, Mr. Carter, who owns five pairs of Adidas Yeezys, said he would buy them. “One thing I do like about Yeezy and just everything with him, all of his designs are unlike anything else. And so if I like the design of the sneaker, I’d definitely purchase it and add it to the collection.”

But other fans drew the line years ago. Mr. West’s comments about slavery caused Brianna Thomas, 22, to stop supporting him. “There was actually a certain point where I was buying a lot of his stuff,” she said. When Mr. West started going on “problematic rants,” she said, she began reselling. Ms. Thomas, a musical theater student at the New School, said she still has one pair of black Yeezy 500s in storage, which she now plans to sell.

She said she was frustrated that it took this long for Mr. West to experience significant consequences for his offensive statements. “There were comments said about Black people before this that I just was like, absolutely not.” With his most recent antisemitic statements, she said, “I feel like he’s just going to keep targeting people to get outrage.”

Even though she is selling hers, Ms. Thomas noted that “not everyone can afford” to get rid of their Yeezys. She said she wouldn’t judge people who keep wearing them.

“This has always been a Kanye behavior,” Lance Ewing, 31, said. “It was just the actual words coming out of his mouth weren’t ever to this degree of evilness.” Mr. Ewing, who lives in Chicago and runs a small sneaker resale business, characterized Mr. West’s recent statements as “completely outrageous” and said he is putting multiple pairs of Yeezys up for sale. Mr. Ewing said that Mr. West’s creative works have had a significant influence in his life: “He has shaped the culture of not only hip-hop, but, just, you know, honestly being a Black man, which I am.”

For many, the question now is whether it’s possible to isolate the creator from his creations. “People talk about his, you know, comments or things. I’ll say, ‘I don’t agree with this,’ ‘I don’t agree with that’ or, you know, ‘Hey, you tripping with that,’” Mr. Carter said. “I guess it’s separating the art from the comments.”

Mr. Ewing said he had previously kept 20 to 30 pairs of Yeezys in storage as a “safeguard” in case of a financial emergency. “I’ve been trying to transition out of Yeezys for the past six months, but it hasn’t been such an urgency to necessarily just do it as it is now. I’m just completely done with it now.” Instead he is stocking up on shoes designed by Pharrell Williams.

Still, Mr. Ewing will keep wearing his personal pairs of Yeezys, for which he paid “really, really good money” that he worked hard for. “But, you know, as of buying another pair of shoes? Hell no,” he said.

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