Skip to main content

Reebok Owner Addresses Russia

Authentic Brands Group on Thursday announced it would suspend its operations in Russia—including those of Reebok stores—in light of the country’s “unrelenting attack on Ukraine.” The company was one of the last fashion businesses on a Yale School of Management list of companies “defying demands for exit of reduction of activities” in Russia.

ABG’s statement arrived three weeks after Russia’s initial invasion of its southwestern neighbor and on the same day the U.S. House of Representatives voted to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus.

The legislation, approved in a 424-8 vote, would raise tariffs on goods from both countries. Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he expected the bill would have “broad bipartisan support” and that he would work with his colleagues to move it through his chamber quickly, according to Reuters. President Joe Biden voiced his support for revoking Russia’s Permanent Normal Trade Relations status last week.

The House vote comes as the death toll continues to rise in the Ukraine. From Feb. 24 through Tuesday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 1,900 civilian casualties in the country, including 726 deaths, it said Wednesday. The OHCHR believes actual figures to be “considerably higher, especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days.”

Less than a week into the war, Nike, H&M, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, Asos and Puma became some of the first fashion companies to limit the availability of their goods in Russia. Though some companies initially only halted online sales, virtually all have since suspended operations. In some cases, however, franchisees have remained open after a franchisor shuttered its owned and operated locations. Last Friday, for example, Reuters reported that at least six Nike stores had remained open despite the company’s decision to suspend operations.

Related Stories

Reebok suspended its Russian e-commerce site on March 9—two days after Adidas joined companies like Nike and Puma in closing brick-and-mortar stores. As of Thursday afternoon, the note on Reebok’s Russian site still said retail stores are continuing to operate as usual until further notice.

The statement released by ABG Thursday notes that partner operations have been immediately suspended “in some cases.” In other cases, however, this process will take longer to come into effect “due to contractual issues.”

“With the exception of Reebok, ABG does not have any branded store operations in Russia at this time,” the statement continued. “ABG is taking the necessary steps to immediately suspend operations of the Reebok stores and e-commerce in the country.”

A list hosted on the Yale School of Management’s website has tracked companies’ positions on Russia since the week of Feb. 28. Initially, only “several dozen companies had announced their departure,” according to a note that appears above the list. The page divides hundreds of companies into four categories, from those that have made a “clean break” with Russia to those “digging in.”

The latest version of this list, updated Thursday, places just 27 companies in that final category. Of that number, only two are in apparel or footwear: Authentic Brands Group and the French sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

A few companies have made it to the list’s top tier of “completely halting Russian engagements,” including Asos, Boohoo Group, Crocs, Farfetch, TJ Maxx and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group. More fall within a second tier of “companies temporarily curtailing operations while keeping return options open,” including Nike, Adidas, Levi Strauss and many others. In all, 330 companies are listed within these top two categories. Another 80 companies are described as “scaling back” their operations.

Meanwhile, earlier this month Reebok confirmed “Hurrikaze” as the new title for its Kamikaze basketball sneaker. “The change comes with respect to the historical origins of the term ‘Kamikaze,’” Reebok said. The brand released its first Kamikaze model in 1994. The renamed style will continue to be a priority across in-line retros and collaborations throughout 2022 and beyond, Reebok noted. The brand originally announced the name change in the summer of last year.

“We have a responsibility to be accountable, learn and grow as a brand, and although we can’t change the past we can most definitely impact change for our future,” Portia Blunt, Reebok’s vice president of global apparel and executive lead for its Human Rights Award, said in a statement. “By making this change we signal growth and acknowledge the impact words have on the those we serve within our diverse global sneaker community.”

Reebok will offer a mixed inventory of Kamikaze and Hurrikaze footwear starting this month. One of the first sneakers to bear the new name—the Hurrikaze II Low Rito Revolto—will appear in a collection inspired by the ‘90s kids’ show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” Slated to drop March 25, Reebok’s second Power Rangers collaboration will also include an Instapump Fury and an Answer IV.

That same day, Reebok plans to release the first two styles from its latest collaboration with Maison Margiela. The collection will see the French fashion house’s creative director, John Galliano, interpret a series of classic Reebok styles through Maison Margiela’s “signature” concept, “the memory of.” The technique will aim to evoke the impression of familiar elements via the deconstruction of garments and accessories, Reebok said.

“It is the visual recollection of an object or feeling that is no longer materially visible, but palpable through an outline or suggestion,” it added. The Classic Leather Memory Of and Club C Memory Of mark the first of five sneaker designs launching this spring.