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What should Adidas do with its huge stock of Yeezys?

After Ye lost his $1.2 billion deal with Adidas for making countless anti-Semitic remarks, the sportswear brand is now trying to figure out what to do with the remaining stock of its most hyped-up line of sneakers.

Back in November, when all eyes were on Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) as he spewed hate speech at any opportunity, Adidas announced that it would cut all business ties.

The two had first started working together in 2015 when Adidas agreed to manufacture Ye’s sneaker designs. Its first release was the Boost 750 which quickly sold out, making the collaboration Adidas’ most popular line of all time.

Over the years, Yeezy accounted for more than half of the German sportswear brand’s profits – so it’s unsurprising that Adidas stuck by Ye during many of his controversies. But in light of incessant anti-Semitic remarks made by the rapper, Adidas decided it would have to cut its losses.

It announced that the production of Yeezy shoes would stop immediately and that it would not authorise any further payments to Ye or his companies. According to Forbes, Ye is no longer a billionaire without his Adidas partnership, with an updated net worth of about $400 million.

The next step for Adidas is to figure out what to do with the thousands of pairs of Yeezys now holed up inside its warehouses and factories. Though the total worth of these products sits at an estimated $1.3 billion, the dilemma is as much about ethics and sustainability as it is about staying financially afloat.

What are Adidas’ options?

There are a few, and all of them require being completely transparent about the process moving forward.

First, Adidas could sell the remaining shoes at a discounted price so as not to make any more money off the collaboration. The catch is, they’d have to remove or replace the Yeezy label as they legally cannot use the brand’s name anymore.

This might be the way things pan out, as the company has admitted that the year ahead will financially be a difficult one. With Ye’s creative brain being a key source of income, Adidas has a lot of work to do – either entirely alone or through another lucrative collaboration.

Then there’s the second option.

Since Adidas owns the design rights to every Yeezy shoe ever made, it could legally continue producing the silhouettes we’re accustomed to seeing on the feet of hype beasts and celebrities around the world – just with a different name attached.

In this case, it could sell the pairs at the regular price, but donate all profits to anti-hate organisations around the world. The brand could even spin the situation in a positive way by creating its own anti-hate charity funded by profits from ex-Yeezy stock.

Personally, I like this second option. It would be a true case of turning lemons into lemonade.


Lastly, Adidas could take the route of shredding the shoes and putting the legacy of Yeezy behind them forever. However, several major brands have come under fire for destroying deadstock in the last year, so this isn’t likely to happen.

If it decides not to sell the remaining shoes, Adidas could harness a major opportunity to boost its sustainable credibility by using the leftover materials to create an upcycled line.

Virtually every major brand is trying to clean up its green image, and Adidas has already done this well by creating sneakers out of recycled ocean plastic.

Granted that Adidas knows the exact material compositions of Yeezy sneakers, the gigantic amount of stock presents the perfect opportunity to test the upcycling capabilities of these kinds of fabrics.

This one isn’t a bad idea either. It could also be posed as a major selling point. ‘These are new sneakers made from those old sneakers that everyone loved by that rapper who shall not be named,’ you get me?


Some final thoughts

Obviously, Yeezys are one of the most internationally recognised and well-loved sneaker lines.

But not everyone who wears them is a ride-or-die supporter of Ye. Some may favour the unique design or enjoy the comfort offered by the shoes.

If the $1.3 billion worth of stock was put up for sale, I have no doubt they would be disappear in minutes.

Still, once the stock is gone (if it does take that route) I doubt Adidas will continue producing Yeezy silhouettes under a different name. Named Yeezy or not, I think most would agree that their shape, design, and colourways will always be synonymous with their original designer.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but for Adidas, who needs to find an avenue of income that can match the one brought in by Ye’s designs… they best choose wisely.


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