Stars Rebound from Scandal-Fueled Setbacks

Despite celebs’ social missteps, their endorsed footwear remains marketable.

Jane Neal, Content Editor

March 1, 2024

3 Min Read
Kyrie Irving x ANTA sports footwear
Kyrie Irving x ANTA sports footwearKyrie Irving, ANTA

Last year, we saw several scandals involving celebrities with ties to footwear, most notably, Kanye West (now known as Ye) and Kyrie Irving, who both lost their soles to anti-Semitic scandals. Although it didn’t happen overnight, both adidas and Nike eventually severed ties with Ye and Irving. However, licensed footwear translates to big money in the lucrative footwear market. Last year, Statista forecast the global revenue in the Athletic Footwear segment of the footwear market would continuously increase between 2023 and 2028 by a total of $11.9 billion (+22.46%). After the eighth consecutive year of increases, the indicator is estimated to reach $64.92 billion and therefore a new peak in 2028.

So, scandals aside, global shoe sales will continue for both shamed celebs.

Last week, adidas announced it had begun a further release of its YEEZY inventory with a range of existing products being available in phases over the coming weeks around the world. The company announced at the start of this year that it would release the remaining YEEZY inventory, which features products from 2022, through the year. The range available will include some of the most popular designs beginning with the 350 V2 in STEEL GREY.

The products will be available exclusively through adidas digital platforms, including the CONFIRMED app, adidas app and The phased release of products will help ensure a fair and premium experience for consumers. Availability and timing of release will vary depending on location.

Related:Licensed Footwear Special Report: What’s on Your Feet

Since terminating its YEEZY partnership in October 2022, adidas has donated to selected organizations to combat discrimination and hate, including racism and antisemitism.

Last summer, Irving signed a five-year deal with Chinese brand, ANTA, just seven months after Nike dumped him. At the time, the company also named Irving “chief creative officer.”

This week, ANTA announced the global launch of ANTA KAI 1, the first addition to Irving's signature line of basketball footwear. The sneaker was designed by Jared Subawon, whose six-year tenure at ANTA has been marked by sneaker drops that resonate deeply and push the boundaries of design. The shoe also features hieroglyphic-esque code on the upper. “The Journey is the reward” is engraved into the midsole tooling, while the silhouette’s aerodynamic contours are meant to echo Irving’s unorthodox maneuvers and transitioning while on the court.

“As chief creative officer and a player, I’ve woven the essence of my heritage and my heart for basketball into the design of ANTA KAI 1,” says Irving. “This is more than a shoe; it embodies our ancestors’ strength and the future we’re building. Every detail, from the hieroglyphics to the aerodynamic shape, tells the story of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Join me in stepping into this new chapter.”

The color selection curated by Irving and, Shaneika Warden, color design director, ANTA, draws inspiration from the beliefs of Native peoples, integrating the symbolism of the four directions with the psychological and physical impacts that colors exert on the body and mind.

“The ANTA KAI 1 color is rooted in cultural symbolism, color psychology and fashion trends,” says Warden. “It is meant to celebrate the greatest gifts one can possess within the physical and metaphysical form, for not just one being, but all beings.”

The ANTA KAI 1 will debut March 6 on

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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