News, Culture & Society

Kanye West’s Yeezys HQ in Wyoming could save him $15M in taxes but hurt ‘sweatshop workers’ in Asia

Kanye West’s plans to move his Adidas Yeezy headquarters to Wyoming could save him millions in taxes but also could spell disaster for Adidas workers in Asia who risk being left jobless by the move, a charity group exclusively told DailyMail.com.

The rapper fell in love with the mountainous state after recording his album Ye there and snatched up a $14 million ranch near Cody, Wyoming in September.  

Now the town, which has a population of around 10,000, is set to become home to West’s new Adidas Yeezy headquarters instead of California, after the move was announced in November.

The month before, Kim Kardashian’s husband echoed President Trump’s vow to bring jobs from abroad back to the US, saying in a Beats 1 interview: ‘For me, as a founder, it’s really important to bring these jobs back to America.’

And while West could save up to $15 million by moving his headquarters to tax-haven Wyoming, it could leave sweatshop workers in Asia in even more dire circumstances, according to charity group Clean Clothes Campaign. 

Kanye West’s plans to move his Adidas Yeezy headquarters to Wyoming could save him millions in taxes but also could spell disaster for Adidas workers in Asia who risk being left jobless by the move, a charity group exclusively told DailyMail.com. The rapper and husband of Kim Kardashian fell in love with the mountainous state after recording his album Ye there and snatched up a $14 million ranch near Cody, Wyoming in September

And while West could save up to $15 million by moving his headquarters to tax-haven Wyoming, it could leave sweatshop workers in Asia in even more dire conditions, according to charity group Clean Clothes Campaign. Pictured: Workers in Asia putting together Adidas shoes

And while West could save up to $15 million by moving his headquarters to tax-haven Wyoming, it could leave sweatshop workers in Asia in even more dire conditions, according to charity group Clean Clothes Campaign. Pictured: Workers in Asia putting together Adidas shoes 

DailyMail.com contacted West’s team for comment.  

In October, West claimed he made $115 million in 2018. Although his current tax arrangement isn’t known, if he paid the standard California state tax rate for high earners earning over $1 million of 13.3 percent, then he would have handed over $15,295,000 in state tax alone.

Wyoming is one of seven US states where there is no state income tax and, if he spends more than 183 days a year in Wyoming, then he wouldn’t be liable to pay any state tax. 

Meanwhile, Clean Clothes Campaign, the leading global NGO alliance fighting sweatshop conditions, advised West that if Adidas Yeezy makes any changes to its production line, then it needs to act responsibly or risk harming workers. 

Back in October,  West claimed he would move all production of his apparel and shoe range away from countries such as China, Vietnam and Cambodia.  

Currently, there are at least a dozen jobs being advertised by Yeezy for shoe design, development and management positions in Cody.

West has also sub-let a factory in Cody, which will be his new sample lab.

In November, West appeared, alongside chief designer Steve Smith, at New York’s Fast Company’s Innovation Festival, with Smith vowing that West is not ‘blowing smoke’ about making shoes in the US, before adding: ‘We’re going to bring jobs back here. We’re going to make Yeezys in America. This is revolution.’

But Clean Clothes Campaign cautioned West against moving too quickly, pointing to other examples in Asia where Adidas suddenly pulled out and left thousands of poorly paid workers without jobs, some of whom earn no more than $3-a-day.

West said he was setting up a new HQ in Cody, which has a population of around 10,000. In October West echoed President Trump's vow to bring jobs from abroad back to the US, saying in a Beats 1 interview: 'For me, as a founder, it's really important to bring these jobs back to America'

West said he was setting up a new HQ in Cody, which has a population of around 10,000. In October West echoed President Trump’s vow to bring jobs from abroad back to the US, saying in a Beats 1 interview: ‘For me, as a founder, it’s really important to bring these jobs back to America’

According to a report from the charity in 2018, much of Adidas’ sportswear is made in Indonesia, where 80 percent of workers are women, who make as little as $96-a-month or around $3 a day.

There have been two instances in Indonesia where workers in factories making Adidas products were fired en-masse. 

In July 2012, a group of 1,300 mostly female workers were fired from the PT Panarub Dwikarya Benoa factory, which makes Adidas footwear, and the issue is yet to be resolved today with Adidas and fellow sports brand Mizuno failing to take any responsibility. 

Another Indonesian sportswear manufacturer Kizone, located west of Jakarta, closed in April 2011 with its owner disappearing after Adidas pulled out.

The 2,800 workers who lost their jobs were legally entitled to severance payments totaling $3.4 million. Yet it was only due to student protests in the US and UK, which led to Adidas finally paying up. 

Campaign and outreach coordinator for Clean Clothes Campaign, Christie Miedema, told DailyMail.com: ‘Ultimately, sourcing practices should ensure that workers have decent work, meaning labor standards are respected and employment is stable and secure.

‘If a company, such as Adidas, pulls out production of a factory, whether to find an even cheaper production location or to relocate out of political or sustainability reasons, it is of utmost importance that it does so in a way that does not put the workers at risk of losing their livelihood.

The rapper fell in love with the mountainous state after recording his album Ye there and snatched up a $14 million ranch near Cody, Wyoming in September (pictured)

The rapper fell in love with the mountainous state after recording his album Ye there and snatched up a $14 million ranch near Cody, Wyoming in September (pictured)  

Along with the lakes, Kanye's new ranch in Cody also houses a restaurant, an event center and numerous meeting facilities

 Along with the lakes, Kanye’s new ranch in Cody also houses a restaurant, an event center and numerous meeting facilities

West's ranch spans over 9,000 acres of lush, green land, which contains not just one, but two lakes

West’s ranch spans over 9,000 acres of lush, green land, which contains not just one, but two lakes

‘Buyers such as Adidas should take concrete measures to mitigate and minimize the damage to workers and their communities when a workplace does close, or a significant buyer decides to relocate. That includes fair severance payments for workers, possible re-employment at other suppliers and a transparent, timely process for a closure of a contract, instead of a unilateral decision by the brand.

‘In the past, factories that supplied to Adidas have had to close overnight after major buyers pulled their orders. After massive campaigning, Adidas took its responsibility in paying the workers of the Kizone factory in Indonesia the severance that they were owed. Other factory closure cases, such as the PT PDK factory that supplied Adidas and Mizuno, still remain unresolved, with workers waiting for many years for the wages and severance they are owed.’

Some campaigners have dismissed West’s claims that Yeezy will move away from cheap producers in Asia, with one leading anti-sweatshop source saying: ‘Yeezy is just the name for a collaboration project between rapper Kanye West and Adidas. 

‘There are no separate Yeezy workers, they are just Adidas workers. Among the many models they turn out, a few of them come as Yeezy.

‘We’re doubtful that Kanye West is going to move production to the US. This might be just a statement in line with the current American President’s sentiment to Make America Great Again”, but sneaker production is actually harder to move than just comment, as there is more technical know how involved. So, apart from the cost aspects, it just won’t happen overnight.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.