Kanye West sues Walmart for ‘fake’ Yeezy trainers

Lawyers for billionaire rapper accuse retailer of ‘trading off’ his popularity

Gino Spocchia
Friday 25 June 2021 21:07 BST
Kanye West
Kanye West (AFP via Getty Images)

Kanye West is reportedly suing Walmart for “flagrantly trading off” his brand of Yeezy footwear.

The 44-year-old alleges that Walmart traded off his “popularity”, as well as that of his footwear brand, Yeezy, in a court filing seen by TMZ and The Blast.

An apparent copy of his Yeezy Foam Runner trainer, Mr West argues, confused consumers with the $35 imitation found on Walmart’s website.

The Foam Runner, which Mr West reportedly designed in 2019, sold for $75 a pair when they were first offered in 2020, and became iconic after selling out.

Attorneys for Mr West reportedly say Walmart “traded off” the popularity of Mr West and Yeezy with the "unauthorised exact copy" of the Foam Runner.

Lawyers reminded the American retailer that the rapper’s Yeezy brand was worth “billions”, and that Mr West “sets trends for everything he touches.“

“Simply put, Kanye West is a household name, and the Yeezy brand, which has become synonymous with West, has become one of the most influential and successful brands in fashion”, it reportedly added.

It was also alleged that Mr West reached out to Walmart with a warning to stop selling the trainers, but it apparently failed to do so.

The lawsuit is seeking damages.

“Walmart’s conduct is harming and will continue to harm, West and Yeezy,” the court filings allegedly say, “leaving them no choice but (to sue) to stop Walmart’s unfair competition and profiting from the popularity of the success of West and Yeezy”.

“Not only are West and Yeezy losing market share for their authentic Yeezy Foam Runner, but also their reputation and the goodwill of the Yeezy brand is being harmed by the association with the Imitation Shoe given its subpar quality, as evidenced by the consumer comments shown from the Walmart website,” lawyers for Mr West reportedly added.

The retailer, in a response to TMZ, said the trainer was sold by a third party company on its website.

"The product referenced in the complaint is not sold by Walmart, but rather by third party Marketplace sellers. We take allegations like this seriously and are reviewing the claim. We will respond in court as appropriate after we have been served with the complaint,” the spokesperson added.

The Independent has reached out to Walmart for further comment.

Mr West faced criticism in 2020 for claiming a figure between $2m and $5m in federal loans as part of Donald Trump’s coronavirus relief offer for struggling businesses.

The rapper, a vocal supporter of Mr Trump, reportedly employs 160 staff and and has revenues of around $1.5bn annually.

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