One of the few footwear manufacturers in the US has laid off a large portion of its workforce, a move the company says is a result of Adidas’ termination of Kanye West and stoppage of the Yeezy business.
In a statement, Buford, Georgia-based Okabashi Brands confirms it has laid off 142 employees following Adidas’ decision to cut ties with Ye. Okabashi was contracted in April 2020 to manufacture Yeezy products, namely the Foam Runner, in the USA.
“Last week Adidas announced they terminated their partnership with Ye and stopped the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect,” Okabashi said. “Adidas clearly does not tolerate hate speech and Okabashi also stands for these values.”
The Georgia-based manufacturer, which specializes in sandals and foam footwear production, says Adidas’ shuttering of the brand means Okabashi must stop its current Yeezy production. Because of this, the company does not have enough orders to keep its employees busy with work. The 142 workers who were laid off will receive severance and extended healthcare coverage, and Okabashi says it’s working with local agencies and manufacturers to provide other employment options.
Okabashi says the Foam Runner is the only Yeezy model it produces. The debut “Ararat” Foam Runner colorway, released in June 2020, and the follow-up “Sand” style from March 2021 were made in the USA, but other Yeezy Foam Runner products contain “made in China” labels. When reached for comment, Okabashi and Adidas were not able to confirm which Yeezy styles were produced by Okabashi beyond March 2021.
“We can confirm Okabashi produced select Yeezy foam products for Adidas over the last three years,” an Adidas spokesperson said.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Okabashi announced earlier this year plans to invest $20 million and create 340 new jobs over the next 5 years. The company was founded in 1984 and touts itself as one of the remaining 1 percent of U.S. footwear manufacturers.