adidas has finally devised a plan to offload its unsold YEEZY shoes. On May 11, adidas chief executive Bjorn Gulden told shareholders that the company will sell its inventory of Ye-designed adidas YEEZY sneakers and donate the proceeds to charity.
The move comes seven months after adidas terminated its partnership with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who launched adidas YEEZY with the German footwear brand in 2015. In October 2022, it cut ties with the disgraced rapper in response to several antisemitic remarks he made during interviews and on social media.
“adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company asserted in a statement posted to its website.
“Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
YEEZY reportedly generated close to 10 percent of adidas’ annual revenue and its decision to cut ties with Ye over his anti-Semitism reportedly cost adidas about a billion dollars, analysts estimate. It was speculated that adidas was developing its own in-line YEEZY sneakers in early 2023, as the YEEZY brand and the products associated with it are still owned by Ye (who recently held an impromptu YEEZY fashion show).
If the company destroyed its remaining stock of unsold YEEZY shoes, which analysts estimated is worth upwards of $300 million to $500 million, it would suffer massive financial losses.
Gulden clarified that adidas would not destroy the unsold stock, a practice that some brands employ to ensure scarcity. However, burning or otherwise defacing large amounts of product isn’t exactly environmentally conscious nor popular among shoppers.
“Burning is not the solution,” adidas CEO Gulden said. “What we are trying to do over time is to sell parts of these goods and then donate to organizations that help us and that also have been hurt by Kanye’s statements.” He did not specify which organizations the company plans to support with the money generated by selling off YEEZY sneakers.