Adidas Has $1.3 Billion Worth of Unsold Yeezy Shoes — ‘Options Are Narrowing’

Photo Credit: Alex Haney

Going on six months after its acrimonious split with rapper Kanye West, Adidas is still sitting on a mountain of Yeezy merch. A $1.3 billion mountain, by some estimates.

During its most recent investor call, Adidas’ new CEO Bjorn Gulden said the German sportswear giant is getting close to making a decision on what to do with the unsold merchandise. He told investors that the company’s “options are narrowing” following a reported $441 million in lost sales at the beginning of the year. Gulden says there are a lot of interested parties involved in the discussions, but no concrete decision yet.

Gulden became CEO of Adidas in January 2023, following the company’s split with the rapper. He says the company is trying to avoid destroying the merchandise, but also that the company is hesitant to offer the sneakers for sale since the rapper would earn royalties on each sale.

The company has even considered restitching the current stock of Yeezy shoes to remove the rapper’s brand, but ultimately decided that course of action would be dishonest. Adidas is also afraid that just giving away the unsold stock to people in need could lead to a booming black market for the Yeezy sneakers and people willing to pay top dollar for them.

Adidas has not disclosed how many unsold pairs of Yeezy sneakers it has in its warehouses. That’s because Gulden is afraid if consumers know how many are left, it could “impact demand.” Adidas is expected to take a 500 million euro loss this year if it does not move the remaining Yeezy stock. Net sales declined 1% in Q1 2023 and would have risen 9% had sales of the Yeezy line not been discontinued.

Adidas is currently facing a class-action lawsuit from its investors who say the company knew the risks of associating with Kanye West since at least 2018. The lawsuit aims to represent people who purchased Adidas stock from May 2018 to February 2023. The lawsuit points to comments Ye made in 2018 suggesting slavery is a ‘choice’ people make and reports of Kanye making antisemitic remarks in front of Adidas staff.