Yeezy 'Sample Lab' to come to Cody, Wyoming
While there isn’t much information on what will go on at the sample lab, the facility will involve an 11,300 square-foot warehouse and an additional 1,056 square-foot space, and will hire ten to 20 employees, according to multiple reports.
For now, the facility will be dedicated only to Yeezy footwear, and a launch date could be set for as soon as late January.
West’s interest in Wyoming, and Cody in particular, isn’t new: the rapper and businessman bought two ranches in the state this year, and in November he announced that the Yeezy headquarters would move from Calabasas, California to Cody. In addition, West currently employs approximately 30 employees in the state who work from one his ranches.
Named after folk hero William F. Cody—more widely known as Buffalo Bill—Cody, Wyoming has a population of about 10,000 residents, and currently its major pull is as a tourist destination based on its namesake.
West’s moves in Wyoming appear to be a step toward his aspirations for domestic production. In an October interview with Beats 1 Radio’s Zane Lowe, West said that he wants to bring production of Yeezy footwear to the United States, a plan which, if executed, could mean a major hike in Yeezy pricing.
Currently, imported footwear comprises 99% of the shoes sold in the U.S., according to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), and most domestic makers are extremely small-scale. However, if West is looking for a large-scale blueprint, footwear giant New Balance has its own commitment to domestic manufacturing—albeit with its own limitations, as the company labels all footwear with a domestic value of at least 70% as ‘Made in the USA.’
The sample lab announcement comes after Adidas reported a slip in Yeezy’s performance in November.
That month, the German sportswear company revealed that although its third-quarter sales rose a currency-adjusted 6% to 6.41 billion euros ($7.10 billion), its footwear sales were up just 1% measured against a major Yeezy launch last year. In addition, the company's chief executive, Kasper Rorsted, said Adidas decided to limit supplies of Yeezy products this year to maintain their exclusivity.
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