Tom Sachs Allegations: Boundary Issues, Underwear-Clad Nike Meeting, & More

A new report details allegations against artist and Nike collaborator Tom Sachs by former employees. 'We are still all very scared of Tom,' says an ex-worker.

Tom Sachs 2021

Image via Christian Charisius/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Tom Sachs 2021

UPDATED 03/15, 6:30 p.m.: Nike has issued the following statement regarding the workplace allegations made against Tom Sachs.

“We’re deeply concerned by the very serious allegations,” a Nike spokesperson tells Complex. “We’re in contact with Tom and his studio seeking to better understand this situation and how these issues are being addressed.”

See original story below.

Longtime Nike collaborator Tom Sachs is facing allegations of harboring a hostile studio environment that some workers describe as scary, according to Curbed.

“We are still all very scared of Tom...This job ruined the art industry for me. My psychiatrist had a field day,” a former studio fabricator tells the publication. The report, which Curbed says is based on interviews with over a dozen former employees, includes claims of the studio’s cult-like tendencies—diet and fitness regimens, matching outfits, strict communication guidelines—as well as more troubling allegations against Sachs.

Employees describe Sachs throwing objects at them and calling people names like “autistic,” “retarded,” and “bitch,” all of which were denied by Sachs, along with the majority of other allegations. “I saw him throw a sheet of steel across the room because someone had left it in the wrong place, and it almost hit a tank of welding gas. And when I went to the studio manager to say, ‘Hey, he threw something toward me,’ her response was ‘Well, at least he didn’t throw it at you; he used to throw stuff at people,’” a fabricator told Curbed.

A former administrative worker tells Curbed that Sachs called into a Zoom meeting with Nike female employees while wearing his underwear. The same employee said Sachs had a “type,” once pointing at her and telling his toddler, “See, this is what we call a ‘shiksa goddess.’ This is what we call Daddy’s type.”

Sachs is said to have nicknamed a storage closet the “rape room,” renaming it to the “consent room” in 2016. There are also claims of pornography being a repeated subject of discussion in the work place and an overall lack of boundaries. 

The cross on the studio’s first aid kit was taped to resemble a swastika, which has since been removed and was said by his studio to be an attempt “to subvert and reclaim this painful part of Jewish history” by Sachs, who is Jewish. 

Nike’s partnership with Sachs began in 2012 with the release of the original NikeCraft Mars Yard 1.0 sneakers. It has since produced some one of the brand’s most sought-after collaborations and most recently resulted in the more accessible General Purpose Shoe which was sold in select Kohl’s stores. 

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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