Kanye West Wears 'White Lives Matter' Shirt at His Yeezy Season 9 Fashion Show in Paris

West wore a long-sleeve design featuring the slogan used by white supremacist groups alongside conservative commentator Candace Owens at his Paris Fashion Week Presentation on Thursday

Candace Owens/Twitter
Photo: Candace Owens/Twitter

Kanye West wore a shirt featuring the words "White Lives Matter" during his Yeezy Season 9 event at Paris Fashion Week Monday.

The artist — who legally changed his name to Ye — sparked controversy in his black long-sleeve tee with its statement, which is considered a "hate slogan" by the Anti-Defamation League. The look could be seen on full display Monday as the designer gave a speech during the opening of the presentation. It was also featured in an image uploaded to Twitter by conservative commentator Candace Owens — who wore the same shirt in white to the show. The front of the top featured Pope John Paul II and the words "Seguiremos Tu Ejemplo," meaning "We Will Follow Your Example."

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During a speech before the event, West wore the shirt as he touched on classism in fashion, ex-wife Kim Kardashian's Paris robbery, former manager Scooter Braun telling him he needed to "make more money" by continuing his 2016 Saint Pablo Tour, and the fact that the tour's cancellation is a moment that he feels will be brought up "for the rest of my life."

"It's the ultimate stigma," he said. "People feel like they have the right to come to my face and call me crazy. Like it doesn't hurt my feelings. Or like, you don't have to be crazy in order to change the world."

The designer, who recently terminated YEEZY and Gap's two-year partnership, then asked if Elvis Presley would have been "able to perform in Paris" if he had an Instagram, instead of being "held back by his manager." The Yzy Szn 9 show, streamed on YouTube, also featured Naomi Campbell modeling, as the event was soundtracked by a new Ye song featuring James Blake.

"You can't manage me. This is an unmanageable situation," West said. "You can't turn the music lower, this is a God's dream, a dream that can't happen without the help of God. The journey. The people who believed early. The people who sat in my car and listened to the early versions of Yeezus."

The phrase "White Lives Matter" as seen on West's shirt is described by the Anti-Defamation League as a "white supremacist phrase" that originated in 2015 following the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. As the organization details on its website, members of the Aryan Renaissance Society and other white supremacists have promoted the slogan, and by 2016, the Ku Klux Klan was doing the same.

West has previously seen pushback for wearing attire, like the MAGA hat he wore during a 2018 performance on Saturday Night Live following the release of his album Ye. Kardashian later opened up about West's decision to wear the politically-charged baseball cap and support former President Trump during a 2021 interview on the Honestly with Bari Weiss podcast. As she shared, she was initially "nervous" about the fashion choice.

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"And now, looking back I thought, 'Why should he take that off if that's what he believes in? Why can't he wear that on TV? Half of the country voted for [Trump] so clearly other people like him also," Kardashian, who split from West in February of 2021, said at the time. "I learned a lot from that situation and no matter what, it taught me to be a little bit more empathetic for people that just want to do what they want to do, and freedom of speech — and if you want to wear the hat, wear the hat."

Two years after wearing the MAGA hat, West announced he, too, was running for president and embarked on a campaign that included a rally stop in Charleston, South Carolina.

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At his only campaign event, West — who launched his presidential campaign amid a tumultuous period in his life — divulged deeply personal details about his family. He ultimately earned about 60,000 votes in a dozen states.

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