Nike Appears to Have Dropped Collaborator Tom Sachs and Scrapped the Artist’s Future Sneaker Releases
Many expected new Sachs drops this year.
In March, following allegations of workplace abuse at artist Tom Sachs‘s studio, Nike came under pressure to drop the artist. Now, it appears the company has done so.
“We are not working with Tom’s studio at this time and have no release dates planned,” a Nike representative told Complex, which first reported the story, even though some of his designs were expected to appear this year.
Sachs’s Mars Yard shoes, first released in 2012, can fetch up to $10,000 on the resale market. The popular sneaker news source Sole Retriever reported that Nike planned to release a third edition of the shoes, Mars Yard 3.0, over the holidays this year.
But Nike’s recent statement rules that out and suggests that perhaps the company has terminated its relationship with Sachs for good.
Representatives for Sachs declined to comment. Nike did not immediately respond to inquiries from Artnet News.
The artist’s last offering from Nike came in February, with a new “Field Brown” color palette for his General Purpose Shoe, first released in the summer of 2022 as a less expensive, more everyday alternative to the Mars Yard series.
A white and gray version with green and yellow accents was revealed in November, with a release said to be scheduled last month, according to Sole Collector, just after the allegations emerged. The shoe now appears to have been scrapped.
The complaints against Sachs include allegations of verbal abuse and sexual harassment. Former employees also said that Sachs and his wife, Sarah Hoover, subjected them to demeaning work for extremely low wages.
The issues were not confined to workers at Sachs’s studio. At least one Nike employee requested not to work with the artist, citing his allegedly sexist and inappropriate behavior. The artist was also accused of—and has denied—wearing only his underwear during a Zoom meeting with Nike executives.
Nike also had to alter boxes of Sachs’s NikeCraft Mars Yard 2.0 shoes just prior to release, in order to remove the Constantin Brancusi quote “work like a slave, order like a king, create like a god” from the lid.
One Sachs video—A Hero’s Journey, created for the 2017 release of Mars Yard 2.0 sneaker—followed an aspiring studio assistant through “indeterminate, mindless labor. No pay. Silence.” In another, employees are shown repeatedly emptying litter boxes. A third showed Sachs hurling a typewriter through a wall where it hit two workers.
Even the press for his General Purpose shoe hinted at abuse. In promoting the new line, the artist shared “anecdotes of making several people on his design team cry over having to do it over and over again to get that ever-so-slight detail just right,” according to Esquire.
Over the years, the artist’s Nike Craft line has released more than 30 articles of clothing and accessories, including t-shirts, coats, various bags and fanny packs, and down shorts.
The sneaker world has been closely watching Nike to see how the company would respond to allegations against Sachs, who is white, after severing ties with Black NBA star Kyrie Irving for sharing links to an antisemitic film on social media. An artist taped a call to “Just Drop Him” with the Nike swoosh on a white truck in Lower Manhattan, and in the artist’s signature handwriting.
Concerns about working conditions under Sachs and Hoover were first raised after they posted a job ad for an assistant that was widely ridiculed.
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