FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Adidas will start selling some of the shoes from its defunct Yeezy partnership with rapper Kanye West at the end of May, the company said on Friday, and plans to donate some of the proceeds to organisations fighting antisemitism and racism.
Adidas cut ties with West, who goes by Ye, in October after he made a string of antisemitic comments in interviews and on social media. The German sportswear maker was left with Yeezy shoes worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Adidas did not say how much it would donate, saying only a "significant amount" would be given to organisations including the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change, run by George Floyd's brother, which aims to fight systemic racism in the United States.
"We believe this is the best solution as it respects the created designs and the produced shoes, it works for our people, resolves an inventory problem, and will have a positive impact in our communities," CEO Bjoern Gulden said.
"There is no place in sport or society for hate of any kind and we remain committed to fighting against it."
The release of some of the shoes marks the first time Adidas has sold Yeezy products to customers since ending the partnership in October, a decision which triggered several profit warnings as the company revealed how important the Yeezy line was to its profitability.
The value of Yeezy shoes in the resale market has rocketed since then, with some models more than doubling in price. Adidas did not specify whether it would seek to control the resale market for the shoes.
For each shoe sale, Ye will be entitled to previously agreed commissions - 15% of turnover, according to media reports. Adidas has declined to comment on this.
Adidas said there could be further releases of Yeezy stock but no decisions have been made on timing. The announcement has no immediate impact on the group's 2023 outlook.
"At a time when antisemitism has reached historic levels in the U.S. and is rising globally, we appreciate how Adidas turned a negative situation into a very positive outcome," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
Adidas already has a relationship with the ADL, having donated $1 million to the organisation in November.
The Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Adidas' planned donation.
Adidas invited other organisations to propose projects "aimed at combating discrimination and hate through sports."
($1 = 0.9084 euro)
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner and Helen Reid; Editing by Jan Harvey, Cynthia Osterman and Richard Chang)