Beyoncé allegedly left a meeting with sneaker brand Reebok after realizing that the staff she would work with on a new line of footwear and apparel lacked diversity, writer Nick DePaula revealed in a recent segment of ESPN’s “The Jump.”
“She had a meeting with Reebok, and they had a whole presentation of everything, potential products, and how this could all look,” DePaula told the show’s panel, which featured host Rachel Nichols, sportswriter Brian Windhorst, and ex-NBA player Tracy McGrady. “And she kind of took a step back and said, ‘Is this the team that will be working on my product?'”
When someone reportedly confirmed the group with Beyoncé, the music mogul raised concerns.
“She said, ‘Nobody in this room reflects my background—not my skin color and where I’m from and what I want to do,'” DePaula explained. “And she kind of took a step back and left.”
The announcement came as several fI’m ashion labels have faced public outcry for not doing enough to recruit people of color and, in some cases, promoting explicitly racist designs.
In February, Italian luxury brand Gucci, for instance, pulled a sweater from its online and physical stores because it resembled blackface makeup. That same month, British label Burberry apologized for sending a model wearing a noose down a runway.
Beyoncé purportedly met with other sportswear brands, including Jordan and Under Armour, before reaching an agreement with German brand — and Reebok’s owner — adidas. The deal not only allows the singer to create new footwear and apparel but also relaunch her athleisure brand Ivy Park.
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adidas already has another big-name celebrity it can count on: Kanye West. In 2013, the rapper and designer left Nike following disagreements over royalties and creative control. Soon after, he partnered with adidas to release the “Yeezy Season One” collection, which featured several hot-selling items.
Although Nike continues to lead all footwear brands in revenue, adidas has seen somewhat consistent growth in its profits. The latter’s revenue jumped from $7.14 billion in 2010 to 12.78 billion last year, according to database company Statista.
And despite being acquired by adidas in 2005 for $3.8 billion, Reebok continues to struggle. Last month, retail giant Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would sever ties with Reebok after its licensing agreement with adidas expires.