Nike Collaborator Tom Sachs Issues Apologies Over Alleged Inappropriate Workplace Culture, Sneaker Community Responds

·4-min read

Tom Sachs has spoken publicly for the first time since workplace culture issues at his studio came into question in March.

Yesterday via Instagram Stories on his personal account, Sachs, a frequent Nike collaborator, issued two letters of apology to his followers and to his team. The letter to the public was dated May 10 and the one to his team was dated March 21, eight days after a Curbed investigation detailed an alleged “destabilizing and scary” work environment at his studio.

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Several of the themes expressed in the May public letter were also expressed in the one shared with his team in March. Most notably, Sachs maintained that he has never harassed anyone.

“But let me be clear: I have never tried to make anyone feel uncomfortable. I have never harassed anyone. I would never intentionally harm anyone. Safety is a top priority in the studio. Those are the facts,” Sachs wrote in his March letter.

Sachs also addressed in the letter to his team one of the more disturbing aspects of the Curbed report from March, the alleged “rape room” name given to a storage area in the basement of the studio.

“One very specific issue I want to address is the reports of the room with the air compressor in it previously being called the ‘rape room.’ When I acquired the studio in the early 1990s, this was a poor reference to a small, dark room in the basement. This was tasteless commentary that I sincerely regret. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. I regret having this associated with our studio; it does not reflect our values. We did away with this name years ago — but not soon enough,” Sachs wrote.

While acknowledging some missteps, Sachs targeted the media in his March letter, stating, “The recent representations of me in the media do not portray the totality of my thirty-year long career, nor the experience of the majority of team members.” He added, “Despite our detailed responses to reporters, many of these false and misleading allegations have persisted.”

In both letters, Sachs confirmed his commitment to growth, both personal and professional.

“These past few months have been a time of overdue reflection. It’s been painful but vital. I deeply regret that anyone, ever, felt less than supported, safe and fulfilled within my studio — but it’s clear that some people did,” Sachs wrote in the May letter. “As our business grew at a rapid pace and cultural norms progressed, we did not take the necessary time to professionalize our operations. I wish I had prioritized this a decade ago. I am laser-focused on it now.”

The letter continued, “I am committed to building a studio culture that better aligns with the values that I explore and develop as an artist. My art and personal/professional growth is my main focus.”

Nike first partnered with Sachs in 2012 for the launch of the NikeCraft Mars Yard 1.0 sneakers and has since produced a series of high-heat releases with the artist. Most recently, the two entities released a General Purpose Shoe at a more accessible price point.

After Sachs issued his apologies, the sneaker community responded.

“Honestly, we should’ve canceled Tom Sachs after he made a scale model of a Slave Ship, put a full bar in the back of it, filled it with Barbie Dolls & called it art. But them sneakers though,” sneaker YouTuber David Kari wrote on Twitter.

Twitter user @SWEETtriniSOUL wrote, “This Tom Sachs s–t feels performative but okay.”

@KickKollector on Twitter added, “Wasn’t convinced Tom Sachs was the worst before that apology letter, but now I am. He SUCKS.”

At the start of the month, rumors circulated about a possible new Sachs collaboration with Nike, the Mars Yard 3.0. That rumor, however, was quickly shut down in a story first reported by Complex. “We are not working with Tom’s studio at this time and have no release dates planned,” Nike told Complex on May 5.

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