If there’s one business Kanye West would be most annoyed leaving his orbit, it’s probably Balenciaga.
The high-fashion firm and its creative director Demna have long collaborated with West and been inspired by his adventures in the apparel industry, including a co-signer on West’s now-aborted deal with clothing retail giant Gap and a space for West to walk the Balenciaga catwalk. Paris Fashion Week show this month. Demna and West reportedly also had a close friendship.
But, after a two-week period during which West made, and then repeated, numerous anti-Semitic and conspiracy-drenched comments, Balenciaga finally cut ties with the rap star.
“Balenciaga no longer has any relationship or plans for future projects related to this artist,” the brand’s parent company, Kering, said in a brief statement on Friday.
The relationship between West and Balenciaga goes back years: In 2016, West said he planned to “steal Demna from Balenciaga,” and Demna returned the affection. “He makes me get out of my comfort zone and be a better designer. There is no ego when we collaborate, just a mutual drive to evolve and do something big and new,” she told Vogue. Balenciaga often collaborated with West’s now-ex-wife Kim Kardashian, and Demna worked on his “Donda 2” live dates last year.
But a decade after designer John Galliano’s fall from grace following an anti-Semitic tirade, fashion industry insiders wondered why West’s highest-profile design collaborator hadn’t spoken out. While West’s bipolar disorder diagnosis earned him some sympathy, his appearances with far-right figures like Candace Owens and Tucker Carlson, and provocations like wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt proved too volatile for some signings.
In unaired footage from West’s two-part interview with Carlson, he told the Fox News host that Planned Parenthood was founded “to control the Jewish population. … When I say Jewish, I mean the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, who really are the people known as the black race. So are our people. Blood of Christ.” On the popular “Drink Champs” rap podcast, West said that “the Jews have owned the black voice. … Paparazzi taking a picture of you, you will not get any money. You’re used to being screwed by the Jewish media.” On the same podcast, West also falsely claimed that George Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose (a police officer choked Floyd).
Floyd’s family announced that they plan to file a $250 million lawsuit against West for his comments. Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups have condemned West’s various comments and urged his business associates to end their relationships with him.
Many of West’s business and creative collaborators have canceled or reassessed deals in recent weeks, including Adidas, JP Morgan and Gap. His record deal with the Def Jam label has also reportedly come to an end.
Not all companies are fleeing West’s side. The right-wing social media platform Parler, owned by Owens’ husband George Farmer, announced this week that West had agreed to buy the site.