Adidas Board Pauses Yeezy Release Plans

Sources say the decision was motivated by the Israel-Hamas war.

Zebra Adidas Yeezy 350 V2
The ‘Zebra’ Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 was among a group of Yeezy sneakers meant to re-release at the end of 2023. Via Adidas
Zebra Adidas Yeezy 350 V2

Adidas will not move forward with a plan to release more leftover Yeezy stock through the end of this year, sneaker industry sources tell Complex. The brand had planned to bring more Adidas Yeezys to market starting in November, but according to an internal Adidas memo from last week that was shared with Complex, the release of the next wave of Yeezys is on pause.

“As a brand we will not do a new drop for the remainder of the year both for our internal e-com and retail as well as wholesale,” Adidas’ message reads. “We will not be shipping out any new stock, this direction was given at the board level."

The drop was set to include the “Bone,” “Onyx,” and “Zebra” colorways of the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2. Adidas’ Yeezy 500 and 700 models were also included in the group.

An Adidas spokesperson declined to comment on the upcoming Yeezys for this story.

Adidas terminated its deal with long-term partner Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, in October 2022 after he made antisemitic remarks on social media and publicly derided Adidas execs. After the breakup, Adidas stopped releasing Ye’s hugely lucrative Yeezy sneakers. Though Adidas let go of Ye, it was stuck holding over $1 billion worth of outstanding Yeezys that were already in the works before the artist torpedoed his deal.

Adidas resumed selling the sneakers in May and pledged to donate a portion to the proceeds from their sale to “organizations working to combat discrimination and hate, including racism and antisemitism."

The internal Adidas communication that Complex viewed regarding the status of Yeezy releases for the remainder of this year does not refer to Ye’s shoes by name, instead calling the drop “Aurora 3.” Sources with knowledge of Adidas’ slate of sneaker launches say that “Aurora” is a code name referring to Yeezys. One source says that this year’s Yeezy releases were split into separate phases: Aurora 1 for the launch of Yeezys in May that flowed through Adidas’ own channels, Aurora 2 for the launch in August that was also available at retail partners, and Aurora 3 for the launch that was scheduled to take place next month via Adidas and its retail accounts.

Two retailers that were meant to carry the upcoming group of Yeezys believe that Adidas put the release on hold to avoid potential backlash. Previous 2023 Yeezy drops did not cause significant negative feedback for Adidas, but the latest would have landed in a different political climate. One store owner speculates that, against the backdrop of the war between Israel and Hamas, Adidas found it too risky to release a new batch of product associated with an artist who has a recent history of antisemitic comments. 

Adidas has reason to be wary of the potential for Yeezy controversy, and could have reignited it last month. Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden said in a podcast interview in September that he didn’t think Ye “meant what he said” in his antisemitic remarks. Gulden walked back the comment, according to Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who said in a September post that Gulden apologized for his “misstatement.” After Gulden’s podcast appearance, Adidas issued a statement reaffirming its decision to end Ye’s deal.

“Our decision to end our partnership with Ye because of his unacceptable comments and behavior was absolutely the right one,” Adidas said. “Our stance has not changed: Hate of any kind has no place in sports or society, and we remain committed to fighting it.”