While the implosion of Kanye West’s partnership with Adidas following the singer’s antisemitic comments has largely been focused on shoes and dollar amounts, there’s a labor toll as well.
A manufacturing plant that has been making the Yeeezy Foam Runner since April 2020 has laid off 142 workers, two-thirds of its workforce after Adidas terminated the brand.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports company officials at Okabashi Brands say they agree with Adidas’s decision to cut ties with West, who more recently has legally gone by Ye, but the job cuts were unavoidable with the loss of business.
It’s a reversal of course for the company, which earlier this year had announced plans to invest $20 million in its production plant, and would have resulted in 340 new jobs over the next five years. The company says it will look for other partnerships and continue to manufacture its own brand of flip-flops and sandals.
Okabashi is one of the few footwear companies that produces all of its products in the U.S.
Adidas was one of the brands that held onto its partnership with West following his online outbursts against Jews. As those went viral and garnered support from extreme groups, though, the company terminated the relationship, ending production on all Yeezy branded products, saying “Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.”
The Adidas loss was a big financial blow for West. The company was Yeezy’s main source of income, and the termination of the deal sunk the market valuation of Yeezy and resulted in $1.5 billion evaporating from his net worth.
Adidas say it expects to lose $246 million in profits by cancelling the line.
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