Retail Stocks: Adidas finally reveals its plan for millions of unsold Yeezy shoes: to sell them for charity


Adidas has finally disclosed what it’s going to do with its millions of unsold pairs of Yeezy shoes left over after the brand dissolved its deal with rapper and designer Kanye West last year.

The German athletic-wear giant broke off its partnership with West after he made a string of antisemitic remarks, which the company called “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous.” But that left the fate of remaining Yeezy inventory worth over $1.2 billion up in the air, and the company appeared to be mulling simply destroying all of it at one point.

Read more: Adidas has piles of Kanye West’s Yeezy shoes and no idea what to do with them: ‘If you can’t sell and you can’t destroy, what’s your option?’

After weighing the decision for months, Adidas now says it will sell the controversial kicks after all, but it won’t retain any of the proceeds. That money will go to charity.

“What we are trying to do now over time is to sell parts of this inventory and donate money to the organizations that are helping us and that were also hurt by Kanye’s statements,” Adidas’s ADDYY, -1.80% ADS, -1.12% chief executive officer, Bjørn Gulden, said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Gulden said the details of the sales and the subsequent donations are still being worked out. “When and how that will happen is not yet clear,” he said.

‘What we are trying to do now over time is to sell parts of this inventory and donate money to the organizations that are helping us and that were also hurt by  Kanye’s statements.’

— CEO Bjørn Gulden

When Adidas first teamed up with West, the company labeled him “one of the most influential artists of this generation,” adding that “he crosses music and fashion like no other, and together, with our history in fashion and streetwear culture, we will create a new chapter.”

The rapper went on to design apparel and shoes for Adidas beginning in 2013. But he was widely criticized after tweeting and voicing antisemitic remarks on multiple occasions last year. Video also surfaced of West appearing to brag that he could “say antisemitic things” without any repercussions from Adidas. “Now what?” he asked, repeatedly, in the interview.

Related (November 2022): Nike’s Phil Knight says Kyrie Irving ‘stepped over the line’ sharing antisemitic film

Adidas ended it partnership with West shortly afterward. And other brands including the Gap GPS, -2.44%, Balenciaga and the CAA talent agency also dropped West over his inflammatory remarks, leading the superstar to lose his billionaire status.

The breakup with West cost Adidas €600 million (about $655 million) in lost sales in the last three months of 2022, helping drive the company to a net loss of €513 million (about $560 million). And Adidas has said that if the company were to totally write off of the remaining Yeezy inventory, it could mean a reported operating loss of €700 million (or around $764 million.)

Read on (October 2022): Kanye West escorted out of Skechers office after he showed up unannounced, the company says

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