Kanye West is suing Walmart over 'virtually indistinguishable' knockoffs of his foam Yeezy shoes

kanye west
Kanye West at the "Kanye West and Steven Smith in Conversation With Mark Wilson" event on November 7, 2019, in New York City. Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company
  • Kanye West sued Walmart on Thursday over a look-alike of his Yeezy Foam Runner shoe.

  • The Yeezy shoes sold for $75, but versions from third-party sellers on Walmart sold for $20 to $30.

  • The lawsuit comes months after Walmart and West feuded over a new Yeezy logo.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Kanye West sued Walmart on Thursday, accusing the retail giant of selling knockoffs of his Yeezy Foam Runners.

The billionaire's lawsuit alleged that Walmart has been profiting from his name by selling foam sliders that look "virtually indistinguishable" from his Yeezy Foam Runners. West is suing to have the shoes removed from Walmart's site, as well as for monetary damages. The suit said the Yeezy brand is worth "billions" of dollars, and the company believes it has suffered damages in the "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Yeezy foam runners
Kanye West versus Walmart

When West's slip-on foam sneakers were introduced in 2019 for $75, they garnered some ridicule, with people comparing the shoes to Crocs on social media. Still, the shoes quickly sold out and have since been resold for up to three times their original price, while the Walmart shoes were selling for about $20 to $30, documents filed in a Los Angeles court said.

The lawsuit said that West has built the Yeezy brand on his success as an American icon, and that Walmart is profiting from his image, pointing to celebrities - such as Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, and Snoop Dogg - who have been photographed wearing Yeezy shoes.

The Yeezy brand said in the suit that the shoes caught its attention when posts on numerous social-media sites started taking off by advertising that people could buy the shoes, which some users called "budget Yeezys," on Walmart's website. The lawsuit argued that the Walmart shoes would not have sold if they hadn't been recognized as being similar to Yeezys.

The Yeezy brand initially reached out to Walmart on Wednesday to pull the shoes from its online marketplace, but said that, as of its court-filing date on Thursday, Walmart had failed to pull the product.

A Walmart spokesperson told Insider the company is reviewing the claim. An Adidas spokesperson declined to comment.

"The product referenced in the complaint is not sold by Walmart, but rather by third-party Marketplace sellers," the Walmart spokesperson said.

As of Friday, Insider was unable to find the foam runners on Walmart's website that were pictured in the lawsuit, as well as in the initial TMZ report. The shoes were sold by third-party sellers, including sellers listed as Daeful and LUXUR. The lawsuit said Yeezy had identified up to 10 sellers on the site, but had not been able to ascertain their identity. Insider has attempted to reach out to Daeful and was unable to find contact information for LUXOR.

West said the "subpar" Walmart shoes have not only cut into Yeezy's market share but also affected the brand's reputation, pointing to reviews on the site that say the imitation shoes are "garbage" and "ripped after 20 minutes."

Thursday's suit comes a few months after a dispute between West and Walmart over a logo that the rapper wanted to use for Yeezy. Walmart said it had reached out to Adidas five times over concerns that Yeezy's new logo was too similar to Walmart's own logo and would "create a false affiliation" between the two brands that could damage Walmart's "goodwill."

At the time, Yeezy representatives did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but people close to West have said it's unlikely that Yeezy would try to affiliate the brand with Walmart's image.

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