Following his fall from grace in 2022, the future of the musician and designer isn’t clear after his destructive comments ended personal and professional relationships in fashion and music.

While no stranger to the spotlight, Kanye West’s polarising opinions and provocative stunts were widely accepted, with his art being well received. His popular adidas Yeezy line proved extremely popular, with styles such as the Yeezy Slide and Yeezy Boost 350 V2 reaching mass appeal. That is until the Atlanta-born, Chicago-raised rapper gave a scathing opening speech to his YZY SZN 9 fashion show in Paris wearing a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt, leaving fashion editors, fans, and attendees enraged, with many, including Jaden Smith leaving before the models took to the runway. While not a stand-alone event, Kanye West, or Ye, as per his 2021 legal name change, appeared to sabotage a career that took him from college drop-out to pop-culture icon. From scathing aggressions to offensive comments targeting Jews, the Grammy award-winning artist’s fall from grace has been public and appears entirely self-inflicted. But where did it all begin? 

Rise to Fame

Ye, formerly Kanye Omari West, was born to Donda and Ray West in 1977. His parents divorced when he was three, and he was raised in Chicago’s South Side by his mother and spent summers with his father. His mother taught English at Chicago State University, while his father was a former Black Panther and one of the first black photojournalists at the Atlanta Journal constitution. With creativity running in the family, West went on to study at the American Academy of Art and Chicago State University before dropping out to pursue his music career, which would ultimately inspire his 2004 debut album, ‘The College Dropout’. A talented producer, Kanye had already been introduced to industry heavyweights, producing Jay-Z’s 2001 single, ‘This Can’t Be Life’. Following the commercial success of his first album, the hip-hop artist won Best New Male Artist at the 2004 World Music Awards and Billboard Awards. This rise to fame gave him a platform that could be used for good and bad. 

Three albums and several awards later, Kanye’s ego grew with his success, as seen in his first public outburst at the 2009 VMAs. Famously the Atlanta-born musician stormed the stage to protest against Taylor Swift’s award for Best Video by a Female Artist, insisting that Beyonce should have won. 


From supporting Donald Trump to running for president himself, Ye’s recent controversies seem to have been on a bigger scale. In 2018 West caused outrage in the TMZ newsroom for his comments on slavery. However, in the second half of 2022, a series of seemingly out-of-the-blue statements seriously impacted his commercial viability. After a barrage of hateful, anti-Semitic comments on social media, Ye was removed from Twitter and Instagram. West’s political leanings were also brought into question, due to his association with white supremacist Nick Fuentes as part of his presidential campaign. In a shocking interview with Alex Jones for Inforwars, the disgraced artist admitted he “liked Hitler” as he was accompanied by Fuentes, who is a Holocaust denier.

Another long-standing friendship with Elon Musk was lost, despite the Twitter CEO previously supporting him amidst allegations of anti-sematism in the past. However when West posted a Nazi symbol on the social media platform, the relationship between the musician and Musk was seemingly over, with the rapper’s account being suspended. West was also dropped by his talent agency CAA.

While largely condemned, a group of far-right supporters hung a banner over a bridge in Los Angeles in support of the disgraced hip-hop musician’s offensive comments towards Jewish people, causing many anti hate-speech groups to further denounce West. His ex-wife, Kim Kardashian also responded to his behaviour, stating that it is “never ok or excusable”. Adding fuel to the fire amid the public fallout between the Kardashian sister and Ye, Canadian rapper Drake raised eyebrows in his track “Search and Rescue”, which sampled dialogue with Kim Kardashian.

Following up with more hateful comments has cost the rapper more than his reputation, with many questioning his mental health, following Kanye’s openness about his struggle with bipolar disorder in the past. Many brands have terminated their commercial partnerships with the musician, significantly affecting his net worth and people’s respect for him as an artist. West has a sizable property portfolio, including a beach house in Malibu, just west of Hollywood.

One of the most significant blows to West’s net worth was his partnership with adidas, a deal Forbes valued at $1.5 billion. In a press release announcing the end of the collaboration, the brand stated they “[do] not tolerate antisemitism and any other hate speech”, calling Ye’s actions “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”. 

Ye signed with adidas in 2015 in a deal that allowed full creative control following his previous partnership with Nike, which ended in 2013. While there is speculation over the rapper’s influence on the sportswear brand, according to Business Insider, adidas’ sales in North America were down 1% the year Kanye signed the deal. However, three years into the contract, “adidas reported an 18% annual sales increase, something which Mark King, president of the North American division at the time, credited to the artist”. During the lucrative seven-year partnership, 17 different silhouettes were released, driving a huge demand for the adidas sneakers

While the termination of this contract significantly impacted West’s earnings, the European manufacturer was also affected. According to the adidas press release, the effect of the action was predicted to cause a “short-term negative impact of up to €250 million on the company’s net income in 2022”. According to CNN Business, the German sportswear brand has warned that it could suffer “an operating loss of €700 million ($736 million) this year— [the] first in 31 years— because of a potential €500 million ($527 million) hit related to unsold Yeezy stock”. Since the ending of the commercial relationship with Kanye, adidas have shifted its focus to heritage silhouettes, such as the Samba and Gazelle, enabling them to work on new collaborations and partnerships. 

In another blow to Kanye’s fashion influence and income, Ye’s high-profile partnership with Balenciaga ended due to his controversial actions. West’s association with the Parisian fashion house stemmed from his relationship with creative director and fashion designer Demna Gvasalia. Demna’s connection to Kanye was through the rapper’s appreciation of his work at the French label Vetements before he became Creative Director of Balenciaga in 2015. 

According to Complex, this admiration led to the designer being tapped to work on the Yeezy Season 1 collection. In February 2022, the two extended their commercial partnership, announcing the Yeezy and Gap collaboration engineered by Balenciaga, launching a successful collaboration that would far exceed predicted profits. More recently, Kanye made his modelling debut for the Parisian fashion house, opening Balenciaga’s Summer 2023 collection. A week later, Balenciaga severed ties with Kanye following his hateful outbursts on social media. 

The termination of these brand deals has resulted in a loss of earnings for West, with his net worth taking a significant hit. According to Forbes, the ending of his adidas and Balenciaga partnerships has left his net worth at $398 million after being valued at $2 billion before his hateful comments. 

Is Kanye West going to make a comeback? 

It is worth noting that adidas took longer to announce the end of their creative partnership with Kanye to consider the brand’s direction without him. Regarding a wider fashion comeback, industry powerhouse and Vogue Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has cut ties with the rapper-cum-designer.

In a notoriously tough market, Kanye’s rants filled with hate speech and anti-Semitic remarks have left him isolated, and a return seems unlikely. While West used to be a regular attendee of New York fashion shows, he has now been dropped by virtually anybody who previously supported him. He has however found support in his new wife, Bianca Censori. As of January 2023, the BBC have announced they are working on a documentary and podcast looking into West in the wake of the controversy.

In an article published by CNN, the possibility of a comeback is assessed. Referring to Ye’s lyrics in the 2004 hit, ‘Through the Wire’, where he raps, “They can’t stop me rapping, can they”. The power of his music is something people return to, and while nobody can stop the rapper from creating new songs, with a vastly reduced net worth and a series of hateful outbursts that have led to a downfall of his own doing, it is unlikely the former billionaire will scrape back the respect he once had.