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As Adidas Shutters Speedfactories, Kanye West Sees Stateside Yeezy Production

Just as Adidas decides to move its Speedfactory production away from the United States and its native Germany in favor of an Asia-based supply chain, it appears Kanye West has other ideas for the brand’s popular Yeezy sneaker line.

Speaking at the Fast Company Innovation Festival on Thursday, West detailed his future plans for Yeezy, which has produced some of the best-selling sneakers over the past few years and remains a cornerstone Adidas product.

Although West has frequently made headlines for his idiosyncratic behavior—in the same Fast Co. speech, he suggested that he would run for president in 2024, for example—that’s not what caught the attention of the footwear industry. It was the announcement that the Yeezy line could soon be produced primarily in the United States.

“Within the next two years, our goal is to bring the manufacturing back to America—South America, North America—bring it back stateside to present jobs for people back here,” West said during a panel talk at the event.

West also revealed intentions to shift Yeezy headquarters to a new location in Cody, Wyo., where he maintains a personal estate. Once the transition is complete, West hopes to oversee a sort of sustainable footwear paradise.

“We’re going to be farming and going ‘seed to sew’ and have our own cotton hydroponic farm, our own hemp farm and our own weed farm so we could see every element,” he explained. “We’re getting into how we could have less impact with the dyes because our color is a big signature of the brand. But, also dyeing is one of the things that’s impacting the planet in the fashion industry. So, it’s just being responsible from ‘A to Z.'”

West also confirmed rumors that the brand’s upcoming release, a 3D-printed shoe known as the Yeezy Runner, will be constructed of a “hybrid EVA” foam combined with naturally harvested algae instead of traditional petroleum-based materials.

These developments are “just the beginning” of the future West imagines for the brand, he said—which couldn’t come at a better time for Adidas.

Adidas’ most recent earnings report indicated the company had solved many of the supply chain issues surrounding mid-priced apparel, a significant strain on North Americas sales in recent quarters. However, a closer look revealed Adidas was only able to grow its footwear sales by 1 percent in the third quarter, compared to 13 percent growth in apparel over the same time frame last year.

“The deceleration in footwear is mainly related to two topics, which we have planned for and actually one of them we already spoke about,” Adidas CEO Karsten Rorsted explained on the company’s third-quarter earnings call with analysts. “The first, as previously mentioned, Yeezy was not planned and did not grow in the third quarter as it was competing against the biggest Yeezy released ever, which was executed in the same quarter in the prior year.”

The other reasoning had more to do with Adidas’ soccer footwear, which took a dive ahead of Euro 2020, one of the largest soccer tournaments in the world. Rorsted said almost every other category “experienced healthy growth” in the third quarter, despite the end result.

“I would not over-interpret one quarter of the balance of footwear and apparel and make any trajectories of that,” Rorsted continued. “Of course, what we do is we strive to, over time, have a balanced growth profile, but it’s linked to new product introductions.”

Yet, healthy growth in every other footwear category was still not enough to offset a tough Yeezy comp in the third quarter at Adidas. Without another product capable of picking up the slack, Adidas’ footwear sales growth will continue to be heavily dependent on West’s brand to introduce new products and capture the attention of consumers with a new vision.

“We continue to be confident about our footwear product portfolio and pipeline, which is reflected in our expectation for significant topline acceleration in the fourth quarter,” Rorsted said.

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