In a sight that would send most sneakerheads into an uproar, a Twitter user made a shocking discovery outside of the Nike store in New York’s Soho neighborhood on Tuesday.
Piles of some of the brand’s most popular shoes — including models such as the Nike Air Force 1, Air Presto, Kobe A.D. and Kyrie 3 — had been slashed and discarded in clear trash bags on the sidewalk. Tags attached to the destroyed sneakers were marked with notes such as “obsolete” and “no box.”
“Hey @nike! You say you don’t throw shoes away, but I saw your SoHo store do just that! What’s up?,” Ryan Matzner wrote.
Matzner recalled a story that made headlines in 2010 about H&M intentionally destroying unworn clothing and wondered if Nike was “up to something similar,” according to his tweets.
The tweets caught the attention of The New York Times, which spoke with Matzner in attempt to make sense of the trashed kicks.
According to Matzner, the bags included pairs of left and right shoes that had been slashed from heel to toe. Further digging turned up destroyed T-shirts and sweaters, none of which were salvageable.
As noted by the NYT, it’s not unusual for a retailer to intentionally destroy product that cannot be sold in order to maintain a brand’s prestige.
“If they had been usable, we would have gotten them to people. While we were going through the bags, a homeless man was standing on the street nearby watching us. It was ridiculous,” said Lauren Wagner, a friend of Matzner’s.
Nike spokeswoman Joy Davis Fair shared the following statement to Footwear News: “Our goal is to make sure we always deliver the best products to our consumers. We are committed to sustainability throughout our value chain. A small amount of product at our Nike SoHo store did not meet our standards to restock, recycle or donate so it was disposed of. When product doesn’t meet our standards because it’s returned defective, a display shoe without full pairs or is damaged, we do not resell or donate that product. We dispose of it. We regularly donate apparel, equipment and footwear to non-profit organizations around the world.”