Okabashi, an Adidas manufacturing partner and family-owned shoe company in Buford, Georgia, has laid off 142 employees following Adidas’ end of its partnership with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.
“At this time, there are not enough orders to keep all employees busy with work. Very unfortunately, Okabashi is announcing a layoff of 142 employees with immediate effect,” the statement read.
That was equivalent to two-thirds of the company’s workforce, a company spokesperson told CNN on Friday.
Adidas (ADDDF) has cut ties with the musician after his now infamous anti-Semitic tirade last month. The sportswear maker said it “does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other type of hate speech” and said its recent comments were “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”.
Sales and production of Yeezy-branded products ceased along with payments to Ye and his companies.
“Adidas clearly does not tolerate hate speech and Okabashi upholds these values as well,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, this means Okabashi has to stop its current production for Adidas,” the company said.
Okabashi has been a U.S. contract footwear manufacturing partner for Adidas Yeezy products since April 2020, the company said in a statement to CNN.
The company is “coordinating with local government agencies and manufacturers to provide support and alternative employment opportunities for affected team members,” he said.
The shoemaker said “terminated employees will receive severance pay and extended medical coverage.”
As one of the remaining 1% of U.S. footwear manufacturers, Okabashi will continue to produce its own branded products and pursue other partnership opportunities,” the statement read.
Okabashi, which has been in business since 1984, makes sandals that “are made from approximately 25 percent recycled materials,” according to the company’s website.
The options for dealing with unsold Yeezy equipment pose great challenges.
There is the environmental impact of destroying or disposing of unsold goods. Manufacturing garments and other garments already has a high environmental cost due to the resulting greenhouse gas emissions, high water consumption, water pollution and textile waste. Typical methods of destroying unwanted clothing, such as the use of incinerators, only compound the problem.
Another common industry tactic is rebranding merchandise to cover up controversy, according to experts. This involves removing the distressed brand logo or disguising it in some way.
Yeezy products are very distinctive in style and design, so renaming them might not work, according to Burt Flickinger, retail expert and managing director of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group. F
The most likely destination for unwanted Yeezy products could be overseas markets, which are often the solution for problematic merchandise. Sending goods overseas to countries in need and where a product’s durability matters more than brand or fashion is often a fallback for the industry.
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