Following the deaths of 10 people at the Astroworld Festival, Travis Scott’s ties to sponsors and partners appear to be tenuous.
It was revealed this week that nine-year-old Ezra Blount, who was trampled at the Nov. 5 event in Houston, is the latest death from the festival. Hundreds were injured during Scott’s performance before an audience of 50,000 people, due to a crowd surge. During a press briefing last week, Houston Police chief Troy Finner noted that merchandise tents were “a big challenge. Very sought-after” merchandise sent some of the “kids rushing toward that, breaking down barriers.”
While the Houston Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation and dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Scott, Nike Inc. announced Tuesday that it has postponed the release of its latest sneaker collaboration with Scott.
A spokesperson for Scott and his Cactus Jack Foundation declined comment Tuesday afternoon.
Nike declined further comment Tuesday beyond the statement on its Snkrs app, which read: “Out of respect for everyone impacted by the tragic events at the Astroworld Festival, we are postponing the launch of the Air Max 1 x Cactus Jack.” Nike has had no further comment.
The sportswear giant and the “Astroworld” rapper are frequent collaborators and have brought to life a number of Nike Dunks, Air Max and Jordan sneaker collaborations, as well as Scott’s Cactus Jack line. The two were to launch Nike x Travis Scott Air Max 1 sneakers in Baroque Brown and Saturn Gold in December, but Nike took to its Snkrs app to announce the indefinite postponement.
Nike has dealt with its share of controversies through the years, in working with internationally renowned talent like pro golfer Tiger Woods, elite cyclist Lance Armstrong and Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius. The 30-year-old Scott vowed to cover the funeral costs for the victims of Astroworld and has offered mental health services to the affected families and communities.
The tragic events that unfurled at this year’s Astroworld festival present a precarious situation for Nike and other sponsors of Scott. His raucous concerts have previously resulted in allegations, including Scott pleading to reckless conduct charges after the 2015 Lollapalooza festival.
With 65 million followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, Scott has massive social media reach and has had great branding appeal for major brands and luxury labels. Executives at Dior, another one of Scott’s lead sponsors, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
The two-day event in Scott’s home city of Houston was suspended on Nov. 5 following the chaos that ensued during his concert that night. Sponsors of the event included Nike’s Jordan brand, Levi’s, Verizon and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, among others. The festivities were to include the unveiling of the Cactus Jack Design Center (an endeavor with Parsons School of Design) and several public basketball courts, as well as an array of sneaker release events in conjunction with Nike’s Snkrs.
After multiple requests for comment about the status of its partnership with Scott and his foundation and Parsons School of Design, a Parsons spokesperson issued the following statement Tuesday: “Parsons’ partnership with Travis Scott and the Cactus Jack Foundation recently concluded at the end of a one-year agreement. The partnership was focused on bringing new educational opportunities to underserved students in Houston, Texas and across the country that allows them to explore their creative talents in two online design courses.”
The new Cactus Jack Design Center is housed in TX/RX Labs. A media request inquiring whether that facility will stay open was not immediately acknowledged Tuesday by representatives at TX/RX Labs. A Parsons spokesperson said the school is not associated with the newly-opened Cactus Jack Design Center, nor did the partnership include working with the facility. “We have requested that the Parson name be removed from further communications about the center.” he said.
Announcing the news last year, Parsons, which is part of The New School, did so with much fanfare, noting that it was an unprecedented authentic fashion design program. And that it was. Scott was the first megawatt musician to align with a college or university that was bringing its curriculum to a major city’s school system to help introduce and potentially advance underrepresented high school students in the fashion and design. That was established with nonprofit My Brother’s Keeper in Houston.
Two online design courses helped students get a better understanding of the creative process for fashion and graphic designers and how to evolve, interpret and execute original ideas, the Parsons spokesperson said. “We are proud to have brought these programs to underserved students, which gave them access to [a] world-class design education.” he said.
The partnership included an online certification program for youths nationwide via special scholarships. The status of that was not immediately known, according to the Parsons spokesperson.
The foundation launch in November included a multilevel national partnership with Parsons, as well as a partnership with the city of Houston across Parks and Education that featured the unveiling of the Cactus Jack Gardens, a community-based agricultural program. When Parsons honored Scott at its annual gala in New York in June, the multifaceted talent brought his partner Kylie Jenner and their toddler daughter Stormi. The tribute to Scott included a video message from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The investigation into what the Houston Police Department has called “the Astroworld festival mass casualty” incident is being led by its homicide division and is expected to take months, according to a spokesperson for the police department in a press conference on Nov. 11.
In that briefing, Finner noted that one of the roles of Live Nation at Astroworld was to secure two mosh pits that were directly in front of the stage. He also said that the ultimate authority to end the show is with production and the entertainer, and there should be conversation with public safety officials.
Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment.